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HIBERNIA    VENATICA 


THE    MARCHIONESS     OF    WATERFORD 


TO    LIEUT.-COLONEL 

H.R.H.   THE   DUKE   OF   CONNAUGHT 

£  re3p«tfuIlD  Sctttcatr 
(BY  PERMISSION) 

THESE    EPISODES    OF    THE    FOX    DRAMA 

AND    THE    DRAMATIS    PERSONS    AS    PERFORMED    ON 

THE    IRISH    HUNTING    STAGE    DURING    THE    SEASON    OF    1876-77, 

IN  WHICH  H.R.H.  TOOK  MANY  PARTS 

AS  PATRON,  LEADER,  FOLLOWER,  AND  OCCASIONALLY 

AS  "WALKING  GENTLEMAN." 


2061173 


PREFACE. 


THE  indulgence  of  the  public  to  my  last  record  of  a 
season's  sport  in  Ireland,  emboldens  me  to  offer  a  second 
series  of  my  letters  to  The  Field,  just  as  they  appeared  in 
that  journal,  without  revision  or  alteration. 

I  have  styled  the  volume  "  Hibernia  Venatica,"  hoping 
thereby  to  place  my  country  in  a  more  pleasant  and 
popular  aspect  than  it  could  command  as  Hibernia  Politica, 
Hibernia  Paccata,  or  Hibernia  Polemica. 

The  Greek,  in  the  story,  appealed  from  Philip  drunk 
to  Philip  sober.  The  writer  would  follow  the  example  of 
the  outspoken  Macedonian,  and  appeal  from  a  community 
inflamed  with  the  alcohol  of  sensational  politics,  frenzied 
by  the  phantasms  of  social  rapine,  and  rabid  with  the 
virus  of  fanaticism — to  a  people  united  and  harmonious  in 
maintaining  the  chivalrous  pastime  of  hunting,  proud  of 
the  prestige  of  their  county  packs,  jealous  of  their  repu- 
tation, and,  as  in  the  case  of  the  great  body  of  the 
occupiers  of  the  soil,  submitting  cheerfully  to  some  dis- 
comfort and  actual  loss  in  furtherance  of  the  common 


viii  PREFACE. 

sport.  For  'tis  no  small  praise,  though  only  justice  to 
the  farmers  of  Ireland,  to  record  that  even  in  the  dark 
years  of  famine  and  pestilence,  fox-hunting,  which  hung 
on  their  approval,  was  never  discontinued  in  that  fearful 
cycle,  and  that  when  class  feuds  and  antipathies  were  at 
their  highest  level,  hunting,  though  never  the  pastime  of 
the  majority,  ever  held  the  even  tenor  of  its  way,  un- 
molested, and  practically,  if  negatively,  encouraged. 

Most  countries  can  boast  the  present  luxuries  of  high 
civilization,  beautiful  scenery,  the  pathos  and  tenderness 
of  past  associations,  the  treasuries  of  art,  or  the  resources 
of  spirit-stirring  sport  within  their  borders.  Ireland,  not 
altogether  poor  in  the  former  categories,  is  eminently  rich 
in  the  last  desideratum,  which  marks  out  this  beautiful 
isle  of  emerald  sheen,  thrown  up  like  a  terrestrial  anaday- 
omene  as  a  waif  from  the  seething  Atlantic,  to  be  a  special 
paradise  for  hunters,  a  very  Arcady  of  pursuit,  from  the 
golden  vale  of  Limerick  to  the  almost  boundless  grasseries 
of  Meath  the  royal. 

Switzerland,  with  its  concordant  discord  of  nature,  is 
said  to  be  the  playground  of  Europe.  Paris  and  Rome, 
Venice  and  Florence,  will  ever  swarm  with  curious  visitors 
so  long  as  art  is  worshipped  and  history  is  enshrined  in 
men's  thoughts  and  memories  ;  Scotland  is  yearly  affected 
by  migrant  gunners,  with  prudent  appreciation ;  while  the 
salmonidae  annually  turn  Norway's  rivers  and  fiords  into 
very  tides  of  Pactolus. 

Ireland — where  St.  Patrick  took  up  his  parable  from  the 
wayside  weed,  the  shamrock — alternately  a  bovine  Bceotia, 


PREFACE.  ix 

like  Basan,  or  a  green  Goshen  for  sheep  and  shepherds, 
offers  hunting  capabilities  in  its  damp  muggy  climate,  in 
its  verdant  vesture,  and  in  its  comparatively  scanty  rural 
population,  such  as  no  country  in  Europe,  or,  I  believe,  in 
the  world,  can  parallel. 

Modern  civilization,  which  has  banished  the  booming 
bittern  and  nearly  exiled  the  screeching  snipe,  through  the 
Deanston  fabrics,  and  opened  out  the  surface  by  four  main 
trunk  lines  of  rail,  has  hitherto  proved,  not,  as  in  other 
lands,  antagonistic,  but  most  ancillary  to  the  royal  sport. 
Pursuit  is  thus  made  possible  to  the  many,  and  scent  and 
going  are  actually  improved. 

That  a  social  revolution  has  been  advancing  like  a 
spring  tide  in  Ireland,  must  have  been  evident  to  all 
observers  of  the  country  during  the  past  generation. 

"A  stranger  fills  the  Stuarts'  throne  " 

is  true  of  many  an  ancestral  park,  hall,  or  castle,  and 
many  a  settler  in  America,  Brazil,  or  Africa.  "  Delicta 
majorum  immeritus  luit ; "  such  delicta  having  been  too 
lavish  an  hospitality,  too  reckless  a  profusion,  too  careless 
a  reckoning  with  unjust  factors  and  stewards  of  the  Gospel 
type. 

The  hunting-field  bears  strong  confirmation  of  this 
proposition.  A  few  years  ago,  comparatively  speaking, 
the  squirearchy  and  their  friends  were  the  main  elements 
at  every  meet ;  now  they  only  leaven  the  masses  of 
soldiers,  professionals,  "  box  for  the  season "  folk,  English 
visitors,  Scotch  farmers,  horse  copers,  horse  trainers,  and 


x  PREFACE. 

railway  people.  Three  packs,  of  the  highest  fame  and 
oldest  traditions,  are  now  presided  over  by  "  strangers  ; " 
natural  aptitude  and  a  coincidence  of  favouring  circum- 
stances having  raised  them  to  this  exalted  position  in  the 
county  hierarchy ;  nor  have  any  of  the  advense,  so  far  as 
I  can  gather,  failed  to  justify  their  election  to  the  venatic 
presidency. 

These  circumstances,  which  some  regret,  but  which,  for 
my  own  part,  I  think  of  the  very  best  augury  for  the  future 
of  the  island,  all  show  that  Ireland  is  being  very  largely 
exploited  as  a  hunting  centre,  just  as  her  salmon  fisheries 
have  drawn  thither  multitudes  rich  in  purse  and  full  of 
leisure. 

At  this  moment  some  four  or  five  packs  of  hounds 
await  each  their  "coming  man,"  and  will,  I  venture  to 
predict,  be  none  the  worse  managed  if  entrusted  respec- 
tively to  a  stranger  who  has  been  entered  in  a  good 
school,  and  whose  zeal  for  hunting  has  led  him  away 
from  home 


"  Spurn  vain  delights  and  live  laborious  days  ;  " 

whose  ambition  will  be  in  showing  and  enjoying  the  sport 
he  shows,  untrammelled  by  local  or  hereditary  prejudice, 
but  judging  men  and  things  about  him  from  that  truest 
standpoint — his  own  unbiassed  judgment  and  observation. 
As  for  nervous  qualms,  arising  from  the  perusal  of  the  rare 
land-begotten  crimes,  let  no  intending  sport-quester  in 
Ireland  give  the  subject  an  anxious  thought.  No  hunting 
man  that  I  ever  heard  of  was  molested  in  Ireland.  Like 


PREFACE.  xi 

the  richly  dight  but  unprotected  lady  in  Moore's  song,  the 
hunting  stranger  will  find  lots  of  friends  and  protectors 
wherever  he  goes. 

"  For  though  they  are  handy  at  pistol  or  stick, 
A  sportsman  they'll  welcome  and  treat  like  a  brick." 

The  importance  of  hunting  to  Ireland  may  be  estimated 
by  some  of  the  following  considerations  : — 

Absenteeism  is  allowed  to  be  one  of  the  sore  plagues 
and  ulcers  of  the  island.  Here  is  a  certain  balm  and  pro- 
phylactic. 

Capital  is  still  a  huge  desideratum.  Hunting  brings 
capital,  not  vast,  perhaps,  but  considerable. 

Nay,  more,  does  it  not  hurl  away  absurd  and  ignorant 
prejudices  of  race  and  creed,  and  raise  men  to  a  common 
platform  of  good  fellowship  and  good  sportsmanship  ? 
"  The  man  who  this  day  sheds  his  blood  with  me,  shall  be 
my  brother,"  said  the  great  Plantagenet.  Is  not  the  com- 
munity of  peril  and  the  sympathy  of  excitement  a  stronger 
cement  than  half  the  nostrums  of  political  patchers  and 
political  pullers  down,  levellers  up  and  levellers  down  ? 

There  are  drawbacks,  'tis  true,  to  my  ideal  hunting- 
grounds — wire  barricades  gates  and  hedges  so  thickly  that 
one  or  two  districts  are  shunned  by  straight  riders  as  is  a 
harbour  full  of  torpedoes  by  wary  captains.  In  the  days 
when  Irish  patriots  harangued  in  the  College  Green  forum, 
a  great  orator  is  reported  to  have  said,  "  Every  bush  con- 
ceals a  knave,  eager  for  prey  and  flooded  with  iniquity " 
— alluding  to  three  illustrious  Irishmen  of  the  day.  In  the 


xii  PREFACE, 

country  I  allude  to  many  a  bush  does  conceal  a  wire  strand. 
Traps  in  other  districts  have  improved  the  good  old  fox- 
hood  of  the  country  away,  and  the  modern  substitute  is 
a  poor  creature,  of  much  inferior  type  and  prowess.  While 
a  few  large-acred  men  prefer  the  pheasant  of  the  minority, 
to  the  fox,  the  joy  of  the  majority. 

These  things  have  been ;  these  things  will  be  ;  but 
all  this  notwithstanding,  Ireland  is  an  unrivalled  hunting- 
field ! 

The  old  lady  of  tradition  felt  a  thrill  of  historic 
rapture  at  the  very  sound  of  Mesopotamia.  Meath  is  a 
modern  Mesopotamia.  The  Tigris  and  Euphrates  water 
no  fairer  vales  than  the  Liffey  and  the  Boyne.  The  Suir 
is  more  to  us  now  than  the  effete  though  immortal  streams 
of  Simois  and  Scamander. 


CONTENTS. 


i. 

PAGE 

Rehearsals — Harriers  and  hare-hunting — Their  popularity  in  Ireland — 
The  Duke  of  Connaught  in  the  field — Cubs  and  cubbing — Gaps  in 
the  hunting  circle — A  visit  to  Ashbourne  I 

II. 

Lever  du  rideau  in  Meath — Kells^Headfort — Fast  thing  from  Shaucarn 
— Bellinter  and  its  beauties — Summerhill — Wilkinstown — Swains- 
town — Carton,  etc.  .......  8 

III. 

Opening  day  with  "the  Wards  "—With  the  Louth  hounds— The  Flat 

House — West  Meath,  etc.      ......      22 

IV. 

Kildare's  opening  day — Pageant  at  Johnstown  inn  and  village — Aliens- 
town — Lord  Darnley — Scariff  Bridge — Cork  and  Lord  Fermoy — 
Galway  and  Mr.  Burton  Persse— Maynooth— Mr.  H.  Stubber  and 
Colonel  Chaplin  .  .  .  .  .  -34 

V. 

Stag-hunting  in  excelsis! — Bective  House  and  its  Host  and  Hosts — 
Curraghmore  Sport  —  Summerhill  and  its  Snows  —  Scurry  from 
Ballycaghan — Victims  .  .  .  .  .  -49 


xiv  CONTENTS. 

VI. 

PAGE 

Races  and  Rain — Punchestown  Gorse — Ward   run — Galway   Blazers — 

Meath  West  and  East— Sir  D.  Roche  .  .  .  .64 

VII. 

Hunting  bravery  —  Belgard — Kickers  and   Kickees  —  Sir  D.   Roche — 

The  Fairy  House — Somerville  scenery — Kilkenny  sport — Shiner      .       80 

VIII. 

Mr.    Chapman  and  the   run  from  Cullen's  Gorse — Abbotstown — Cork 

and  Limerick— Kilteel  and  "Snow- Storm"  .  .  .100 


A  bishop   in  parlibus — Stag-hunting— Mr.    Dundas   on    "Gazalier"— 

Bellinter  harriers — Blue  collars — Beltrasna  Gorse — Limerick  hounds      117 


Traps  and  Trappers— West  Meath— Kilbrew— Mr.  Reeves'  oyster  beds  - 

and  harriers — The  Marquis  of  Ormonde — Straffan  Bridge     .  .     134 

XL 

Stony  Batter  and  mud  batter — Poor-house  Gorse  run — Rathbeggan  stag- 
chase — Garradice — United  Cork,  etc.,  etc.    ....     148 

XII 

Maynooth— Cullen's  Gorse — Christmastide — The  Mount  Neil  run — Mr. 

French's  death — Trim — "London"  .  .  .  .162 

XIII. 

Trim — Trimlestown  and  Lord  Langford — Cryhelp — Westmeath Water 

jumping — Kilkenny — Kildare,  etc.     .  .  .  .  .178 

XIV. 

Courtown  company — Corbalton  chase — Punchestown  programme — Dan- 

gan  Bridge — Sam  Reynell's  death — Mr.  Burton  Persse          .  .     196 


CONTENTS.  xv 

XV. 

PAGE 

Ballinglough  burst— Culmullen  chase— The  Black  Bull— The  Grange      .     213 

XVI. 
Rathcoole  rendezvous — Fine  run  from  Johnstown  Kennedy — Baytown    .     230 

XVII. 

The  fox  in  ambush — "  The  Ward  n  at  the  eighth  mile-stone — Snow  and 

Storm — Drumcree — Brannoxtown — Pageant  at  Abbotstown  .  .     245 

XVIII. 

Abbotstown  levee — Mr.  Archdale's  fate — "  Snow-Storm" — Kilkenny  and 

Queen's  County  sport — Philpotstown  and  Rathmore — Westmeath    .     259 


Dancing  and  Dublin — Bellavilla  run — Venison  and  venerie — Duhallow 

sport .........     278 

XX. 

Larracor — Fine  evening  run  from  Pratt's  Gorse — "Laragh" — Kill  near 

Killakee — A  field  squandered  .....     295 

XXI. 

"  The  Hatchet  "— Beltrasna  burst— Swainstown— Carlow  and  Kilkenny 

— Maynooth   ........     315 

XXII. 

Maynooth  and  its  multitudes*— Bective  beatitudes — Mr.   Murphy — Long 

run  from  Dunmurry — Dunboyne  and  the  Ward  hounds          .  .     33° 

XXIII. 

Woodlands  lawn,  meet  at — Kilrue — Bellinter  harriers — Dunshaughlin 

Reisk  Gorse — Mr.  Preston's  stables  and  pack — Louth  .  .     348 

XXIV. 

Trim   and   Trimlestown — Mullingar  meet — Bellavilla — Bill  Ryan — The 

dancing  6th   ........     367 


vi  CONTENTS. 

XXV. 

PAGE 

Observation  and  observations — Somerville — Fifteen  mile  stag-hunt — 
Captain  Candy  and  Culmullen— The  Ladies  Churchill— Wexford— 
Galway— Kildare  sport  .  .  .  .  .  .384 

XXVI. 

Last  scenes — Rath  Gate — Corballis   Gorse — Kildare  Red-coat  races— 

Carlow  ditto  .....  ...     400 

XXVII. 
Partings  and  meetings — Rahinstown — Hunt  ball  at  Naas — Skreen  Hill    414 

XXVIII. 
Louth  sport — Bloomsbury  pageant — Huge  meet — Navan  races,  etc.         .     425 


Brittas  and  Jackson's  Gorse — Meath  Red-coat  races — Knox  and  Kathleen 

— H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught    .....     430 

XXX. 

The  Finish  ........     440 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 


Leporum 


Secreta  cubilia  lustrat ! : 
"  So  ho  !  so  ho  !  says  the  bold  Marco  ! 


Rehearsals— Harriers  and  hare-hunting— Their  popularity  in  Ireland— The 
Duke  of  Connaught  in  the  field — Cubs  and  cubbing — Gaps  in  the  hunting 
circle — A  visit  to  Ashbourne. 

THE  hiatus  between  the  close  of  the  grouse  and  partridge  cam- 
paign and  the  commencement  of  fox-hunting  has  been  pleasantly 
filled  up  in  Ireland  by  cub-hunting  rehearsals,  and  much  harrying 
of  the  timid  hare.  The  latter  sport  is  certainly  far  more  generally 
popular — if  attendance  and  numbers  be  any  test — than  the  pro- 
cess by  which  young  foxes  are  indoctrinated  early  into  the  sweet 
uses  of  adversity,  and  taught  how  to  pluck  the  flower  Safety  out 
of  the  nettle  Danger.  Why  this  should  be  so  does  not  exactly 
appear  at  a  glance.  Perhaps  the  early  and  intempestive  hours, 
which  keen  cub-hunting  masters  have  been  always  obliged  to  adopt 
in  the  month  of  September  and  early  October,  have  something  to 
do  with  the  very  thin  ranks  of  their  followers;  perhaps  the  secrecy 
which  is  maintained  about  these  matutinal  forays  may  partially 
account  for  the  fact,  or  an  over-high  ideal  standard  of  the  class 

B 


2  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

of  horse  which  a  fox-hunter  should  ride,  when  compared  with  the 
modester  qualifications  for  a  harrier  hunter.  Certain  it  is  that  the 
autumnal  fields  which  accompany  hare-hounds  are  almost  plethoric 
in  their  dimensions,  embracing  individuals  of  most  of  the  large 
studs  who  will  soon  be  engaged  in  the  more  arduous  and  ambitious 
pastime;  while  farmers — apparently  reckless  of  the  fact  that  the 
gyrations  of  a  hare  in  a  narrow  compass,  when  followed  by  a  long 
cortege  all  out  expressly  for  jumping  and  schooling  purposes,  is 
infinitely  harder  on  crops  and  fences  than  the  rapider  whirlwind  of 
a  fox  chase — swell  the  currant-jelly  ranks  to  a  most  respectable 
host.  So  far  as  hunting  has  gone,  the  hare  men  have  had  much 
the  best  of  it,  for  the  bouquet  de  lievre  has  been  a  more  titillating 
stimulant  to  hounds  than  cubs,  or  even  old  foxes,  have  proved  in 
this  almost  scentless  season;  and  a  few  very  animating  chases  have 
been  enjoyed  by  some  harrier  packs  already — notably  by  the 
Mallow,  the  Kildare,  and  the  Newbridge  hare  hounds.  The  two 
latter,  indeed,  have  proved  a  most  valuable  adjunct  to  the  large 
camp  at  the  Curragh  and  the  cavalry  regiment  at  Newbridge, 
training  half  the  regimental  horses  and  giving  their  owners  a  few 
capital  gallops.  As  a  matter  of  title,  I  believe  I  am  correct  in 
stating  that  the  Kildare  pack  claim  the  greater  part  of  the  Curragh 
as  their  prescriptive  arena;  both  packs,  however,  drive  hares  over 
the  vast  plain  from  the  surrounding  border  lands;  and  game  is  so 
scarce,  I  hear,  on  the  Curragh  that  the  two  packs  meditating  an 
odorous  assault  on  the  single  hare  of  the  grassy  common  might 
remind  one  of  the  two  kings  of  Brentford  distilling  the  sweetness 
of  a  single  rose.  His  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught 
began  his  hunting  experience  in  Ireland  with  Mr.  Maxwell's  har- 
riers on  Friday  last  in  that  beautiful  reach  of  grass  land  around 
Kilbride  which  the  Meath  and  Ward  Union  hounds  have  made  a 
household  word  among  hunting  men.  A  fashionable  and  hard- 
riding  assemblage  drafted  from  the  Dublin  garrison,  and  the  Ward 
Union  men,  mustered  on  the  occasion;  but  the  legend  of  the  day 
might  be  "  great  cry  and  little  wool,"  for  fur  proved  extremely 


HIBERNIA    YEN  A  TIC  A.  3 

scarce  in  the  county  we  crossed,  and  the  merry  little  muggers  were 
very  vociferous  over  the  single  short-running  specimen  that  turned 
out  for  their  delectation.  If,  however,  there  was  little  of  pursuit, 
there  was  plenty  of  jumping,  and  the  obstacles  were  of  a  kind  that 
taxed  the  energy  and  capability  of  a  good  hunter,  and  not  a  few 
succumbed  to  the  width  of  the  ditches  and  breadth  and  height  of 
the  banks.  The  Duke  of  Connaught  was  admirably  mounted  on 
a  long  and  low  son  of  The  Lawyer's — one  of  those  exceptional 
sort  of  horses  who  catch  the  judge's  eye  at  once  in  the  prize  ring, 
and  are  equally  efficient  and  at  home  in  the  biggest  countries.  A 
pleasant  half-hour  among  the  good  things  at  Priestown,  the  resi- 
dence of  a  famous  one-armed  horseman  and  supporter  of  all  sport, 
wound  up  a  bad  day's  hunting;  but  if  his  Royal  Highness,  who 
has  only  just  returned  from  the  Calpe  hunt  with  its  rock-to-rock 
springing,  witnessed  a  poor  specimen  of  Irish  hares  and  their 
hunting  (a  pastime  which  Blome,  a  writer  of  the  seventeenth  cen- 
tury, declares  to  be  full  of  subtlety,  and  possessing  divers  delights 
and  varieties  which  other  chases  do  not  afford),  he  was  gladdened 
with  the  prospect  of  a  grassy  arena  such  as  few  portions  of  her 
Majesty's  dominions  can  equal  or  surpass. 

There  is  a  general  consensus  of  opinion  among  all  masters  of 
fox-hounds  as  to  the  absolute  necessity — not  to  say  expediency — 
of  rattling  the  young  foxhood  of  their  territories  about,  if  only  to 
teach  them  the  legitimate  art  of  self-defence,  besides  the  value  of 
the  early  quiet  practice  to  the  young  entry.  In  England  cubbing 
is  a  regular  institution,  occupying  a  large  portion  of  the  quarter 
preceding  the  regular  campaign,  and  the  number  of  cubs  immo- 
lated during  this  period  seems  to  Irish  ideas  almost  a  wanton  and 
excessive  sacrifice.  Certain  it  is  that  no  county  in  Ireland  could 
withstand  the  drain  which  the  excessive  keenness  of  many  English 
huntsmen  make  in  the  fox  supply  for  the  season.  The  Marquis 
of  Waterford  is  almost  the  single  M.F.H.  in  Ireland  who  carries 
out  the  English  programme  in  its  entirety — buying  cub-hunters 
specially  for  the  purpose,  and  producing  by  November  a  list  of 


4  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

masks  and  faces  which  is  far  ahead  of  any  of  his  brethren  of  the 
craft.     But  it  must  not  be  forgotten  that  the  Curraghmore  hounds 
have  special  advantages  in  the  magnificent  "chase"  afforded  by 
the  home  woods  and  pastures,  and  the  bearing  and  discipline  of 
this  fine  pack  show  in  the  season  the  benefit  of  these  early  lessons 
in  woodland  lore.     Most  Irish  masters  have  to  contend  with  an 
almost  entire  absence  of  forest  privilege ;  for  any  traveller  through- 
out the  island  must  be  impressed  at  once  with  the  generally  tree- 
less and  hedgerowless  aspect  of  the  landscape  as  he  surveyed  it 
from  railway  carriage  or  coach.    "Csedunt  arbores  qui  alteri  sseculo 
prosint"  was  the  motto  of  our  forbears,  in  lieu  of  the  "serit"  of  the 
poet,  and  square  miles  of  unshaded  greenery  make  one  imagine 
that  in  some  past  generation  a  legion  of  arboricidal  Gladstones 
had  been  suddenly  let  loose  over  the  land,  with  orders  to  leave  no 
sylvan  or  leafy  thing  standing.     This  want  of  woodland  has,  per- 
haps, something  to  say  to  the  staider  system  of  cub-hunting  which 
obtains  generally  throughout  Ireland — shorter  in  extent  and  infe- 
rior in  result  to  the  English   practice.      Thus,   with  the  single 
exception  of  Mr.  Mervyn  Pratt's  woods  at  Cabra,  where  the  packs 
of  two  counties  take  their  pleasure  alternately,  I  know  nothing  at 
all  comparable  to  the  hunting  facilities  which  the  Lower  Woods 
afford  to  the  Badminton  kennels — the  Northampton  forests   to 
their  packs.      The  burden  from  most  counties  has  borne  a  most 
monotonous  iteration — game   abundant,  but   scent  at  zero.      In 
Kildare,  which  is  a  very  artificial  country,  the  supply  of  foxes  bodes 
well  for  the  ensuing  campaign.     There  have  been  a  few  sharp 
gallops,  but  want  of  scent  has  been  the  rule.      Mr.   Hamilton 
Stubber  explored  the  Queen's  County  with  the  same  happy  re  suits; 
while  in  Kilkenny  foxes  turn  up  whenever  they  are  wanted,  and 
the  average  has  been  something  over  one  killed  each  morning. 
Lord  Huntingdon  and  Mr.  Trench  find  the  Ormorid  and  King's 
County  territories  well  stocked,  and  so  do  the  United  Hunt,  the 
Muskerry,  the  Duhallow,  and  the  Limerick  hunts.     In  Western 
Meath  Mr.  Montague  Chapman  has  been  very  busy,  and  I  heard 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  5 

of  a  cub  killed  at  Galston  Park  last  week,  who  really  showed 
fine  sport.  In  Louth  Mr.  Filgate  has  had  to  fight  the  same  uphill 
battle  against  low  scent  in  covert  till  the  i2th  of  this  month,  when 
things  improved  at  Hilltown,  and  a  brace  of  cubs  were  killed 
there,  and  another  brace  run  to  ground.  In  Lord  Gormanstown, 
who  died  very  recently  full  of  years  and  honours,  this  county  loses 
a  very  staunch  supporter  of  fox-hunting  in  theory  and  practice;  but 
in  this  family  it  may  well  be  said — 

" Uno  avulso  non  deficit  alter 

Aureus. " 

Fox-hunting  begins  in  Louth  on  the  24th  inst.  The  obituary 
list  of  the  past  week  has  been  swelled  by  the  name  of  George 
Putland,  who  was  a  thorough  patron  of  sport  in  all  shapes — terra 
marique  potens.  In  him  the  Bray  draghounds  lose  their  enter- 
prising master,  and  the  Brighton  of  Ireland  misses  a  pioneer  in 
all  sporting  adventure. 

In  royal  Meath  much  of  the  cubbing  is  done  in  that  remote 
and  picturesque  corner,  where  Cavan,  Westmeath,  and  Longford 
have  planted  their  marches,  and  Lough  Shelin  forms  a  reservoir 
for  all  these  counties — a  rough  country  enough,  but  admirably 
suited  for  the  purpose,  even  if  somewhat  hard  on  horses.  There 
was  such  a  fine  stock  of  foxes  left  last  season  in  Meath,  that, 
even  supposing  Lucina  had  not  been  propitious  to  the  gravid 
vixens,  no  apprehension  of  blankness  in  any  quarter  need  be 
entertained.  The  reason  for  choosing  the  hillier  and  wilder 
districts  for  making  young  hounds  must  be  obvious  to  any  one 
who  has  ever  driven  through  this  bovine  country,  where  the 
bullocks  are  as  those  of  Basan,  and  where  unaided  nature  alone 
turns  out  horned  stock  in  a  condition  to  be  envied  by  the  most 
patient  and  expert  of  stall  feeders  in  the  Sister  Isle.  I  know 
nothing  more  striking  to  an  eye  fond  of  pastoral  scenery  than  a 
Hidden  transition  from  the  more  highly-cultivated  but  less  blessed 
fields  of  England  to  the  grassy  pastures  of  midland  Meath,  what 


6  HIBERN1A    VENA  TIC  A. 

time  the  partridges  are  being  sorely  exercised  by  drivers  and 
gunners  in  ambush.  There  is  a  sappiness  and  a  richness  of 
colour  in  the  lush  green  grass  which  no  other  land  can  rival, 
and  every  tree  and  thorn-bush  acknowledges  the  fertility  of  soil 
and  mildness  of  climate  which  makes  almost  every  wide  pasture 
field,  with  its  well-bred,  well-fed  herd  of  ruminant  cattle,  a  better 
study  for  a  Cuyp  or  Claude  than  even  the  best  bits  of  Normandy 
or  Picardy.  I  have  not  heard  that  scent  has  been  more  pro- 
pitious to  Meath  than  to  other  parts  of  the  Green  Isle,  which, 
for  the  first  time  this  year  in  the  memory  of  its  old  inhabitants, 
realized  Virgil's  description  of  a  parched  land  unwatered  by  art 
or  nature — 

"  Cum  exustus  ager  morientibus  sestuat  arvis," 

or  that  any  very  striking  passages  occurred  in  their  cub-hunting 
period ;  but  the  forthcoming  season  is  spoken  of  as  likely  to  be 
exceptionally  brilliant,  so  far  as  large  fields  are  concerned,  and 
an  influx  of  distinguished  visitors.  Royal  names  are  even 
coupled  with  royal  Meath's  and  kingly  Kildare's  hunting  grounds ; 
but,  be  that  as  it  may,  no  descendant  of  the  Stuarts  can  forget 
that  a  special  and  spontaneous  loyalty  awaits  him  in  the  hearts 
of  Ireland's  genuine  sons  and  daughters. 

On  the  1 8th  inst.  the  Ward  Union  Hunt  were  announced  in 
a  very  influential  oracle  of  Irish  sporting  matters,  and  with  much 
flourish  and  circumstance,  as  about  to  begin  their  annual  stag 
chases ;  and,  in  order  to  mislead  still  further,  the  point  of  ren- 
dezvous was  fixed  at  the  kennels  of  Ashbourne,  where,  at  a  solid 
and  substantial  dejeuner  d  la  fourchette,  the  Ward  Union  committee 
usually  meet  their  country  friends  and  supporters,  as  well  as  the 
garrison  of  Dublin,  and,  it  may  be,  the  hunting  section  of  the 
vice-regal  staff,  with  that  miscellaneous  aggregation  of  men  and 
women  to  whom  the  panorama  of  a  stag  hunt  and  the  certainty 
of  meeting  many  friends  and  acquaintances  is  quite  attraction 
enough  to  draw  them  from  a  circumference  of  ten  or  fifteen 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  7 

miles.  The  morning  was  glorious;  the  afternoon  was  almost 
continuously  wet.  So  it  did  not  add  to  one's  equanimity  to  find 
at  the  usual  trysting  time,  or  it  may  be  half  an  hour  later,  that 
one  formed  a  unit  in  a  small  body  of  poissons  d'Avril,  who  had 
been  credulously  drawn  to  Ashbourne's  precincts  by  the  same 
baits — flesh  pots  and  sport.  The  printer,  it  seems — or  his  in- 
spirer — had  shoved  on  the  hand  of  time  by  a  week.  Hinc  ilia 
lachryma  !  Hence  these  dripping  garments  !  But  if  the  fiat  had 
not  gone  forth  that  "this  day  a  stag  must  run"  (or  die),  the 
kennels,  stables,  and  deer  park  were  well  worth  a  passing  glance, 
with  everything  about  them  as  taut  and  ship-shape  as  in  an  old- 
time  seventy-four;  the  kennels  in  their  wholesome  sweetness 
showing  that  "the  nitrous  air  and  purifying  breeze"  were  im- 
portant factors  in  Charlie  Brindley's  system,  while  the  presiding 
genius  of  the  place  was  looking  as  hale,  hearty,  and  vigorous  as 
if  the  classic  bard  of  "  The  Chase "  had  drawn  his  ideal  portrait 
from  him — 

"  The  huntsman  ever  gay,  robust,  and  bold, 
Defies  the  noxious  vapours,  and  confides 
In  this  delightful  exercise  to  raise 
His  drooping  head  and  cheer  his  heart  with  joy." 

It  is  certainly  provoking  to  ride  a  long  distance  for  sport  and 
see  none ;  but,  on  the  other  hand,  the  ditches  looked  on  either 
side  of  the  road  chokefull  of  grass,  weeds,  and  other  constituents 
of  ''blindness,"  and  this  Ward  country  is  quite  difficult  enough 
to  cross  in  midwinter  without  the  presence  of  any  extraneous 
impediments.  No  doubt  the  disappointment  was  salutary. 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 


II. 


•  Tally-ho  !    Gone  away  ! 


Lever  du  rideau  in  Meath— Kells— Headfort— Fast  thing  from  Shaucarn— 
Bellinter  and  its  beauties— Summerhill — Wilkinstown— Swainstown— 
Carton,  etc. 

MANY  will  be  familiar  with  Charles  Lamb's  naive  rejoinder  to  the 
chief  clerk  or  head  of  department  at  the  India  House,  when  he 
was  summoned  before  that  impersonation  of  ruffled  official  majesty. 
"Mr.  Lamb,  why  do  you  come  so  habitually  late  to  your  office? 
I  must  have  some  explanation,  sir."  "Tis  true,"  stutteringly 
answered  Elia,  "  'tis  quite  true  that  I  do  come  very  late,  but  pray 
recollect  how  very  early  I  go  away."  Now  the  Meath  hounds  are 
the  very  antithesis  to  Charles  Lamb's  systematic  curtailment  of 
the  hurry  due  to  red  tape  and  departmental  ukase.  They  begin 
earlier  than  any  pack  I  wot  of  in  Ireland,  and  they  leave  off  later. 
Their  precision  at  the  trysting  place  on  the  correct  card  during 
the  season  is  often  considered  over-strained  by  the  tardy  and 
unpunctual,  and  so  long  as  it  is  possible  to  draw  on  during  the 
brief  illumination  of  a  winter's  day,  so  long  will  Mr.  Waller  comply 
with  any  reasonable  request  to  try  so-and-so — run  the  hounds 
through  that  coppice  or  furze-brake — even  where  many  a  master 
would  think  he  had  done  more  than  enough  to  gratify  an  ordinary 
appetite  for  sport  in  his  field.  In  fact,  the  fox  family  in  Meath 
have  a  very  uneasy  time  of  it,  once  the  cubs  have  shown  signs  of 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  9 

being  able  to  travel  afield;  and  the  description  one  Irish  landlord 
in  London  gave  of  another's  retainers,  namely,  that  Mr.  Threestars' 
tenantry  were  the  most  harried  and  harassed  set  of  men  he  knew 
of  (meaning  thereby  their  familiarity  with  distresses,  processes, 
and  evictions,  and  such  like  engines  of  the  oppressor),  is  very 
apposite,  I  think,  to  foxhood  in  Meath.  On  the  other  hand, 
during  the  close  season,  these  interesting  felons  have  "the  tenderest 
care  lavished  on  their  wants  and  caprices.  Bulletins  are  sent 
about  respecting  the  health  and  habits  of  Mrs.  Vixen  and  her 
thievish  brood.  They  take  "young  lamb"  before  any  of  our 
sybarites;  presents  of  game  in  fur  and  feather,  black  game  in  the 
shape  of  crows,  woodpigeons,  and  many  other  minor  delicacies  of 
the  season,  find  their  way  to  the  earth  or  hollow  tree  the  family 
are  known  to  haunt;  forays  on  hen  roosts,  felonies  of  pheasants — 
all  these  things  are  not  only  condoned,  but  acquiesced  in,  as  the 
ebullitions  of  a  wild,  high-couraged  race;  while  some  noble  sports- 
men have,  I  hear,  with  a  view  to  improve  their  physique  and  to 
initiate  them  early  into  training,  supplied  the  young  esurients  and 
their  mammas  and  papas  with  Spratt's  dog  biscuits,  by  a  due 
course  of  which  food  it  may  be  supposed,  theoretically,  they 
would  be  put  on  a  level  with  their  pursuers  so  far  as  condition 
went,  while  their  wily  instincts  would  be  so  much  weight  in  their 
favour  in  the  great  handicap  'twixt  fox  and  hound.  Whether  the 
uew  style  of  feeding  works  the  desired  result  is  a  problem  awaiting 
solution;  but  I  feel  sure  that  if  a  turtle  soup  and  still  champagne 
regimen  was  a  specific  for  turning  the  ordinary  vulp  into  an  extra- 
ordinary, straight-running,  long-winded,  bold  tod,  the  remedy 
would  not  be  long  wanting  in  certain  quarters.  Fortunately,  a  rat, 
a  newt,  a  frog,  a  beetle,  or  a  mouse  rank  higher  in  the  fox  menu 
than  the  veriest  nectar  or  ambrosia  of  our  cellars  and  larders. 

The  hunting  of  foxes  in  Meath  ceased  to  be  an  Eleusinian 
mystery  to  which  the  hierophants  and  the  initiated  (practically  the 
few  who  had  "the  office,"  as  the  argot  goes)  alone  were  admitted, 
on  Thursday,  the  igth  inst.  I  believe  I  am  correct  in  stating  that, 


io  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

in  accordance  with  the  time-honoured  traditions  of  the  country 
and  its  hunting  archives  (inflexible  generally  as  were  the  laws 
of  those  old  oriental  hunters,  the  Medes  and  Persians),  the  pre- 
vious Tuesday  would  have  witnessed  the  lever  du  rideau  on  royal 
Meath's  fox-hunting  drama,  but  that  many  of  the  principal  sup- 
porters of  the  hunt  and  owners  of  coverts  were  engaged  in  synodical 
functions  in  Dublin  of  the  gravest  moment  —  in  fact,  electing 
Lord  Plunket  Bishop  of  Meath  (Ardbraccan,  his  palace,  is  close 
to  the  county  kennels,  and  its  wide  episcopal  lands  and  woods  are 
much  run  through  and  over  in  the  season).  The  scene  of  the 
opening  day  is,  I  believe,  equally  fixed  by  custom  or  tradition,  or 
both,  at  Headfort,  the  spacious  park  of  the  marquis  of  the  same 
title,  which  graces  with  its  well-wooded  undulations  and  natural 
lake  (formed  by  the  river  Blackwater,  now  in  full  spate)  part  of  the 
line  of  hills  on  which  stands  the  interesting  old  town  of  Kells, 
whose  history  is  so  intimately  interwoven  with  the  fluctuations  and 
vicissitudes  of  Ireland's  fortunes.  The  antiquarian  would  fain 
wander  by  the  Aryan  round  tower,  or  by  St.  ColumkilPs  ivy- 
mantled  hermitage — pausing  at  the  Celtic  cross,  whose  ornamen- 
tation and  symbolism  speak  of  a  lettered  and  artistic  past.  The 
hunter  of  foxes  must  hurry  past  many  interesting  signs  and  tokens 
of  a  great  past  and  comfortable  present  in  Kells.  In  ten  minutes 
more,  if  his  Jarvey  will  give  the  mare  her  head,  he  will  be  within 
the  cyclopean  walls  of  Headfort  Park,  trying  to  find  his  mount  in 
the  tumult  of  horses  and  horsemen,  and  the  sauve  qui  peut,  devil 
take  the  hindmost,  of  the  mimic  fray;  for  a  fox  has  been  found  in 
the  home  woods  already,  and  a  very  large  and  brilliant  cortege, 
strongly  picked  out  with  pink,  is  galloping  up  and  down  the  rides, 
while  Bishop  and  Colton  are  cracking  their  whips,  and  the  sylvan 
sounds  so  long  unfamiliar  to  the  ear  are  filling  space  once  more. 
A  ring  past  the  stately  house,  and  then  we  emerge  in  a  rather 
north-easterly  direction  towards  open  country,  when,  just  as  the 
many-coloured  pack,  racing  over  brilliantly  green  turf,  were  begin- 
ning to  show  us  their  form  and  pace  so  soon  as  scent  (almost  dead 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  .   n 

in  the  woodlands)  served  them  a  bit,  our  fox  got  into  an  impreg- 
nable bank.  A  second  fox  had,  it  would  appear,  started  parallel 
to  him,  and  him  we  chivied,  with  no  very  positive  result  either, 
through  the  woods,  and  into  some  burrow  or  other  near  the  rail- 
way; and  now,  during  these  pauses,  we  can  take  some  stock  of  our 
ensemble  and  their  surroundings. 

Homer  made,  said,  or  sung  a  catalogue  of  the  transports  used 
in  his  famous  war,  but  your  scribe  cannot  undertake  any  enume- 
ration of  the  sportsmen  and  sportswomen  who  flashed  through  the 
russet-tinted  woods  or  lingered  on  the  verdant  lawns.  Enough  if 
we  can  glance  at  a  few  of  the  more  conspicuous  of  the  melee.  The 
executive  deserve  the  pride  of  place.  Mr.  Waller  has  evidently 
summered  well,  and  so  has  his  handsome  workmanlike  bay  horse, 
whom  I  recognized  as  a  friend  of  last  year.  Goodall,  the  new 
huntsman,  is  on  a  very  neat  grey  of  good  lineage,  but  certainly  to 
the  eye  not  equal  to  his  weight,  save  when  horses  can  go  on  top 
of  the  ground,  not  through  it.  He  looks  the  huntsman  all  over 
(as  indeed  he  is  bound  to  be,  if  birth  and  breeding  avail  aught), 
and  his  pack,  full  of  lusty  condition  and  bright  as  stars  in  a  green 
firmament,  look  as  if  they  had  reached  even  a  higher  level  than 
last  year.  Bishop,  the  first  whip,  was  on  a  tidy-looking  dappled 
grey;  T.  Colton,  the  new  whip  (from  the  Duke  of  Grafton  and 
George  Beers),  was  on  a  wiry  bay — all  good  men  and  efficient,  as 
we  hear  on  all  sides.  Of  the  fair  forms  en  amazone,  Miss  Waller 
was  charmingly  mounted  on  a  well-known  Kildare  horse;  so  were 
Miss  Tisdal  and  Miss  Kellett,  and  the  Misses  Reynell.  "Cadet," 
who  carried  Mrs.  Garnett,  is  a  celebrity  beyond  hunting  fields; 
Lady  Chapman's  ponies  were  extremely  neat.  Big  men  must 
have  big  horses — big  somewhere,  though  not  necessarily  leggy, 
or  even  tall.  Mr.  Sam  Reynell  was  riding  a  stalwart  bay  of  a 
good  stamp;  the  Hon.  Harry  Bourke's  Phenomenon  looked  capa- 
ble of  doing  as  great  things  as  he  did  last  year;  the  Hon.  C. 
Bourke  was  on  a  capital  flea-bitten  grey;  Mr.  Mervyn  Pratt  rode 
a  fine  hunter;  the  Marquis  of  Headfort  rode  two  of  his  high-class 


i2  HIBERNIA    YEN  A  TIC  A. 

hunters  through  the  day;  the  Hon.  Captain  Maxwell  was  admirably 
mounted  on  a  chestnut  mare;  Captain  Trotter's  bay  looked  as  if  it 
could  carry  a  heavier  man  than  its  owner  (a  harder  'twere  not  easy 
to  pick);  Mr.  Kearsley's  grey  was  a  very  nice  high-caste  animal; 
Mr.  Dyas  was  on  a  rare  weight-carrying  stamp,  of  a  light  bay 
colour;  Mr.  Naper,  of  Loughcrew,  always  rides  nice  horses;  Mr. 
Johnstone's  colt  by  The  Colonel  looked  full  of  promise;  while 
Messrs.  Rothwell,  Rowley,  Mortemer,  Hopkins,  RatclirTe,  Sweet- 
man,  Walker,  Montgomery,  Chapman,  Froome  looked  very  hap- 
pily carried;  and  Master  Wilson  Patten  (the  youngest  entry,  I 
fancy)  looked  at  home  on  a  neat  black  pony.  Half  an  hour  suc- 
ceeded in  doing  hunter's  justice  to  the  good  things  which  Lord 
Headfort's  hospitality  provided,  and  while  in  the  dining  room  the 
topic  of  conversation  was  the  hunting  convocation  to  which  Lord 
Waterford  had  bidden  so  many  hunting  celebrities,  and  the  high- 
class  sport  he  had  shown  them — notably  two  very  good  runs,  the 
first  from  Lord  Bessborough's  coverts,  and  the  second  from  the 
Castletown  woods. 

Presently  we  are  by  the  side  of  a  gorse  which  rejoices  in  the 
name  of  Williamstown  (Mr.  Stawell  Garnett's  care,  I  believe), 
and  are  gladdened  by  an  almost  instantaneous  find  and  "gone 
away  ! "  Popping  over  a  low  stone  wall,  we  sweep  past  Dilmount, 
when  again  sport  is  marred  in  a  most  promising  stage  by  defective 
earth-stopping.  Trains  in  this  part  of  the  world  wait  only  for 
"  the  captain,"  so  we  bade  a  reluctant  farewell  to  the  pack  en 
route  to  Kingsfort,  which,  I  believe,  did  not  hold  to-day.  "  O 
dura  venatoribus  terga"  must  be  the  motto  of  this  Meath  line, 
for  an  exchange  from  the  saddle  to  a  first-class  carriage  is  hardly 
a  gain  in  comfort  or  even  softness.  I  hear  this  line  is  very  liberal 
to  hunters,  and  this  fact,  if  true,  must  cover  a  multitude  of  im- 
perfections and  short-comings  in  charges  and  accommodation. 
A  dripping  day  is  succeeded  by  an  evening  downpour,  and  the 
lower  country  seems  partially  in  flood,  every  brook  having  over- 
flowed its  banks.  Thus  far  into  the  bowels  of  the  earth  (I  mean 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  13 

copy)  had  your  scribe  penetrated,  when  he  received  an  account, 
written  in  hot  haste  and  with  none  of  the  intoxication  of  delight 
yet  evaporated,  of  the  glorious  finale  of  Meath's  opening  day — 
which,  miserable  slave  and  bondsman  to  a  niggardly  company 
that  only  runs  two  trains  per  diem,  he  was  denied  the  joy  of 
witnessing,  even  if  his  testimony  had  been  only  that  of  a  witness 
placed  by  force  of  circumstances  at  a  respectful  distance.  The 
daylight  was  just  beginning  to  wane,  when  a  fox  posted  out  of 
Shancarn,  made  his  point  straight  for  the  hill  of  Mullagh,  nearly 
seven  miles  distant,  where  the  hounds  had  to  be  whipped  off, 
owing  to  the  supervening  darkness.  Scent,  I  hear,  was  superb, 
pace  something  short  of  flying ;  and  this  express  rate  of  travelling, 
plus  a  big  brook,  weeded  out  the  field,  barring  four — Goodall, 
whose  riding  was  simply  "Goodallish"  (pardon  the  expression, 
but  the  Correggiosity  of  Correggio  tempted  me),  the  Hon.  Harry 
Bourke,  and  Messrs.  Trotter  and  Kearsley.  Of  those  proximi 
longo  intervallo  I  can  give  no  account,  and  I  tell  you  the  tale  as 
'twas  told  to  me.  From  all  I  hear,  Goodall  has  already  won 
golden  opinions  in  royal  Meath.  Friday  introduced  me  to  about 
the  smartest  pack  of  bitches,  small  foxhounds,  about  a  dozen  of 
the  best-stamped  weight  carriers,  nearly  all  greys,  to  be  seen 
in  Ireland,  and  such  kennel  and  stable  arrangements  and  ap- 
pliances as  an  amateur  of  hounds  and  horses  and  all  their 
paraphernalia  rarely  has  an  opportunity  of  witnessing.  I  allude 
to  Mr.  J.  J.  Preston's  private  pack  of  harriers,  with  which  he 
hunts  his  "  lordship  "  of  Tara  and  the  neighbourhood  of  his  own 
beautiful  park  of  Bellinter,  on  the  Banks  of  the  Boyne.  The 
whole  thing  is  so  perfect  of  its  kind,  and  so  much  good  taste 
and  judgment  has  been  exercised  in  planning  and  completing 
every  detail  and  minutia,  that  a  description  of  the  pack  and  its 
entourage  would  require  at  least  a  column  to  do  it  common 
justice.  The  kennels  and  hounds  are  under  the  presidency  of 
John  Suter,  well  known  to  many  who  do  their  pursuing  of  foxes 
in  the  Campagna,  and  to  others  in  Herefordshire;  while  a 


i4  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

groom  who  can  show  such  a  stud  of  high-charactered  high-class 
hunters — not  the  least  partaking  of  the  recognized  cobby,  short, 
strong,  stuffy,  quality-lacking  harrier  type — in  the  acme  of  au- 
tumnal condition,  is  to  be  much  congratulated.  Scent  has  not 
been  very  favourable  to  this  pack  so  far,  but  they  have  killed 
a  fair  quota  of  hares  already — well-nigh  a  score — and  had  a 
rattling  burst  with  an  outlying  fox,  whom  they  sent  to  ground, 
thus  giving  him  a  preliminary  breather  for  his  more  regular 
antagonists,  the  Meath  fox-hounds. 

I  should  have  added,  for  the  information  of  sportsmen  on 
your  side  of  the  Channel,  that  the  squire  of  Bellinter  was  some 
few  lustrums  ago  the  proprietor  of  Brunette,  perhaps  the  most 
successful  steeplechase  mare  of  this  century ;  although  several  of 
the  larger  prizes  and  palms  of  cross-country  contests  did  not  fall 
to  her  share,  I  think  she  was  his  highest  trump  card  in  a  very 
strong  hand. 

On  Saturday  Summerhill,  visited  by  the  Meath  hounds,  was 
the  magnet  to  draw  forth  fox-hunters  from  downy  pillows,  late 
lounging  breakfasts,  and  all  other  devices  for  killing  the  arch 
enemy,  whom  methinks  'twere  wiser  policy  in  us  ephemeral 
mortals  to  propitiate  by  good  service  and  sensible  enjoyment  of 
the  short  or  long  lease  of  lives  he  gives  us.  Summerhill,  Lord 
Langford's  fine  park  and  mansion,  is  not  only  easily  accessible  to 
its  own  county,  but  it  invites  pilgrims  from  afar — say  from  West- 
meath  and  Dublin — by  its  comparative  proximity  to  several 
stations,  such  as  Maynooth,  Leixlip,  Kilcock,  Enfield,  and,  on 
another  line,  Dunboyne,  a  place  where  many  hunting  men  find 
it  convenient  to  keep  their  horses  for  the  season,  the  boxes  and 
provender  and  the  situation  all  inviting  thereto. 

It  was  my  fortune  to  hack  along  the  road  from  the  latter  town 
to  the  meeting  point — some  dozen  miles,  or  near  it,  of  English 
measurement — and  to  pass  through  a  most  peerless  expanse  of 
pasture  land,  where  a  bit  of  plough  is  as  rare  as  a  black  swan 
out  of  Australia.  To  the  left,  at  about  two  miles'  distance,  are 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  15 

the  woodlands  of  Carton,  the  Duke  of  Leinster's  residence ;  then 
Colistown,  point  of  departure  of  many  a  good  fox,  is  passed, 
and  so  is  the  Hatchet,  a  very  favourite  meet  of  this  pack. 
Then,  once  the  chapel  of  Kilmore  is  passed,  for  miles  the  eye 
rests  on  hardly  a  single  homestead,  hamlet,  or  building  of  man 
in  which  a  beaten  fox  would  endeavour  to  baffle  his  bloodthirsty 
foes.  Presently  the  park  wall  and  trees  of  our  destination  come 
in  view.  Carriages  flash  past,  and  groups  of  horsemen,  all  bent 
towards  the  same  goal,  join  us.  The  meet  is  at  the  Northern 
Lodge  Gate,  which  opens  upon  a  rather  neat  village,  and  by 
n  a,m.  it  is  clear  that,  in  addition  to  the  usual  Meath  field, 
there  will  be  a  considerable  influx  of  visitors,  for  the  advenes  are 
seen  cantering  down  the  avenue,  past  the  house,  and  from  their 
direction  the  majority  of  them  may  be  guessed  to  hail  from 
Kildare.  In  a  few  moments  more  the  dog  pack  are  busy  in 
that  extensive  belt  of  plantation  which  shuts  out  the  view  of 
the  park  wall  from  the  house  of  Summerhill,  and  before  they 
find  let  us  glance  at  the  rather  extensive  lawn  party.  Among 
the  non-Meath  men  are  Lord  Cloncurry,  the  Hon.  Major  Lawless, 
Mr.  Percy  La  Touche,  two  Mr.  Blackers,  Mr.  Sherrard,  Captain 
and  Mrs.  Davis,  Mr.  F.  Rynd,  Mr.  George  Brook,  Captain  Frank 
Cole,  with  many  others.  Grey  was  decidedly  the  colour  of  the 
day  —  I  mean  only  in  horseflesh  —  for  Snowstorm  and  Grey 
Plover  have  certainly  taken  rank  among  the  highest  hunting 
celebrities  by  their  recent  performances,  not  only  in  the  hunting 
field,  but  in  hunt  and  farmers'  races.  The  roll-call  of  Meath 
would  take  too  long  to  write  at  length;  suffice  it  to  say  it  em- 
braced a  small  host  of  good  men  and  good  horses — the  latter, 
young  and  old,  made,  half  made,  and  some  with  their  hunting 
troubles  before  them,  like  the  young  bears.  Mr.  Murphy  was 
riding  Sapling,  a  smart  bay  horse,  who  has  shown  a  bit  of 
galloping  form  already,  while  among  the  young  ones  a  bay  by 
Blood  Royal  —  ridden  by  a  welter  pursuer,  Mr.  Rafferty  — 
moved  well,  and  looked  like  a  promising  hunter ;  while  Captain 


!6  HI  BERN  I  A    VENA  TIC  A. 

Tuthill  seemed  nicely  mounted  on  a  young  chestnut  of  good 
stamp,  and  Mr.  C.  Hamilton  was  on  a  Carlo  Maratti  horse, 
who  seemed  a  good  performer  indeed. 

But  the  hounds  are  now  in  full  chorus,  and  are  rattling  a 
fox  merrily  and  musically  through  the  woods,  while  we  emerge 
at  the  eastern  lodge  gate,  and  presently  somebody  views  a  red 
rover  racing  away  towards  Pratt's  Gorse — a  charming  line,  and 
likely  to  lead  to  a  good  run.  Is  he  the  hunted  one  ?  We  tarry 
for  a  few  moments  on  the  road  in  expectation,  but  not  a  hound 
forsakes  the  old  quarry ;  so  we  get  into  the  park  again  to  find 
the  pack  have  slipped  away  in  a  northerly  direction,  and  after 
a  ride  of  a  few  minutes  we  get  a  view  of  the  country  intervening 
between  the  park  wall  of  Summerhill  and  a  point  short  of 
Dangan  Castle  literally  peopled  by  pursuers  of  all  shades  and 
colours,  who  are  not  with  the  hounds,  and  don't  quite  know 
where  they  have  gone  to.  Some  are  incoherently  slipping  up 
lanes,  some  are  perched  on  banks  just  about  to  leap  down, 
others  are  quietly  and  patiently  resigning  themselves  to  their 
fate  of  being  thrown  out  in  good  and  numerous  company.  But 
a  minute  or  two  solved  the  problem.  The  hounds  had  checked 
by  a  clump  of  trees,  and  thence,  after  a  cast  or  two,  took  on 
a  cold  line  to  the  Bullring  Gorse,  part  of  which  appeared  to  me 
cut  down ;  thence  over  some  stiffish  fences,  and  a  couple  of  large 
but  safe  doubles,  in  a  sort  of  semicircle,  back  by  the  Bullring. 

The  next  stage  was  a  visit  to  Rahinstown  gorse,  when  three 
foxes  were  on  foot.  Scent  was  not  much  better  than  in  the  earlier 
hours,  and  the  six-mile  point  that  a  Rahinstown  fox  made  recently 
was  not  to  be  repeated,  as  the  driving  power  was  wanting;  so  some 
ringing  was  all  that  ensued,  and  that  not  very  fast  or  furious — 
Major  E.  Lawless  showing  us  that  neither  his  horses  nor  himself 
have  lost  their  straight-going  propensities,  one  drop  which  he 
negotiated  being  a  perfect  caution  to  unstrung  nerves  in  men  or 
defective  shoulders  or  forelegs  in  horses. 

Meanwhile  Mr.  Maxwell's  harriers  were  discoursing  most  excel- 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  17 

lent  music  in  that  pastoral  district  to  the  west  of  Dunboyne,  to  a 
very  distinguished  circle  of  admirers,  among  whom  was  his  Royal 
Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught,  Captain  Fitzgerald  his  equerry, 
and  a  cloud  of  light  and  heavy  horsemen,  attracted  by  the  fine 
day,  the  inviting  country,  the  certainty  of  finding  plenty  of  furry 
game,  and  the  prospect  of  a  pleasant  ride ;  nor  were  they  disap- 
pointed. The  first  hare,  found  near  the  trysting  place,  "Sterling" 
(good  name  for  man,  horse,  or  hound),  ran  very  straight  and  fast 
for  some  twenty  odd  minutes,  and  was  rolled  over  in  the  Moor  of 
Meath,  to  the  great  delight  of  Mr.  Betagh — who,  in  Mr.  Maxwell's 
absence,  held  the  horn  of  office — Mr.  Leonard  Morrogh,  of  the 
Ward  Union  Hunt,  Captain  and  Mr.  Butler,  of  Priestown,  and 
other  notables  in  the  hunting  world,  who  know  what  a  quick  thing 
is  with  stag,  fox,  or  hare.  One  used  to  hear  a  good  deal  of  the 
qualifications  for  "the  man  for  Galway,"  among  which  were  a 
good  trigger-finger,  a  quick  eye,  a  firm  seat  and  good  hands  and 
nerve  on  horseback.  As  Duke  of  Connaught,  his  Royal  Highness 
is  certainly  by  virtue  of  his  title  "  the  man  for  Galway";  but,  titles 
apart,  and  rank  apart,  the  Prince  certainly  proved  himself,  by 
universal  consent,  the  man  for  the  Dublin  country.  His  straight 
brld  riding  was  on  every  tongue.  Some  inaugural  function  in 
Dublin  claimed  his  presence,  and  prevented  the  royal  cortege  from 
witnessing  the  remainder  of  the  afternoon's  sport,  which  was  very 
good  and  satisfying.  I  forgot  just  now,  in  writing  about  Summer- 
hill,  to  say  that  this  park  has  already  done  good  service  to  the 
Meath  Hunt,  and  that  among  the  best  things  of  their  cubbing 
season  was  a  good  run  from  here,  and  another  from  Mr.  Fowler's 
covert  of  Rahinstown. 

On  Monday  this  pack  met  at  Wilkinstown  station,  not  many 
miles  from  the  kennels.  The  day  was  bright  and  gaudy,  with 
a  touch  of  winter  in  it  when  the  sun  was  not  asserting  his  supre- 
macy. Scent  ranged  fairly  good,  considering  all  things,  or  the 
hounds  could  never  have  given  the  satisfactory  account  they  did 
of  a  very  twisting,  home-staying,  dodging  lot  of  foxes  whom  they 

c 


.T8  H1BERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

encountered  to-day,  who  tried  every  device  foxhood  is  capable 
of— running  the  fences  and  ditches,  through  sheepholes,  over 
foiled  ground,  and  so  on;  but  the  pack  gave  them  no  chance, 
following  every  turn  and  twist,  working  like  harriers,  and, 
by  the  most  exemplary  patience  and  perseverance,  enabled 
Goodall  to  handle  a  brace  of  cubs  and  to  run  a  third  to 
ground.  It  was  quite  a  hound  day,  and  the  lovers  of  hunting  had 
a  rare  treat. 

Tuesday  among  Meath  men  was  a  day  of  great  expectations, 
which  were  only  partially  realized.  In  the  first  place,  the  congre- 
gating point,  Swainstown,  Kilmessan,  is  in  the  heart  of  a  magnifi- 
cent pastoral  country.  It  is  known  to  be  fox-haunted  to  an  almost 
embarrassing  degree;  and  Kilcarty  Gorse  is  nearly  synonymous 
with,  and  implied  in,  the  trysting  place — equivalent  to  long  odds 
on  a  good  gallop.  Add  to  all  this  that  Rumour  had  busily  propa- 
gated the  report  that  his  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught 
was  about  to  pay  his  maiden  visit  to  Meath's  broad  pastures,  a 
report  which  the  fathering  wish  no  doubt  assisted  in  spreading. 
Another  fine  and  rather  brilliant  day;  and  it  will  be  easily  under- 
stood that  a  very  numerous  and  fashionable  assemblage  was  seen 
mustering  on  the  lawn  of  the  Kilmessan  parsonage,  and  other 
pleasant  rendezvous  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Swainstown  House, 
between  10.30  and  n  a.m.  There  are  parsons  and  parsons! 
Some  are  monkish  fanatics;  others  are  engrossed  by  the  detail  and 
minutiae,  the  black  letter,  the  symbolism,  the  externals,  be  they 
pompous  or  lowly,  of  their  caste.  Too  much  unleavened  learning 
exalts  some  above  ordinary  mortal  fellowship;  too  little  prompts 
others  to  rush  in  where  angels  fear  to  tread.  But  commend  me 
to  the  parson  who  is  not  a  whit  the  less  a  churchman  or  divine, 
or  a  shining  light  to  his  circle,  because  he  can  enter  into,  and  enjoy 
in  moderation,  the  amusements  of  his  fellow-men — :who  may  not 
hunt  himself,  though  he  knows  all  about  it,  but  can  greet  with  a 
hearty,  kind  welcome  pursuers  who  come  in  his  way.  It  seemed 
natural  and  de  regie  for  most  of  the  habitues  of  this  hunt  to  turn 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  19 

into  Kilmessan  Glebe.  The  hounds  and  staff  knew  their  way 
there,  and  somehow  most  hunters  naturally  turned  in  at  the  lodge 
gate.  The  keen  air  made  many  who,  like  myself,  had  ridden 
more  than  half  a  score  of  miles  to  the  meet,  pretty  hungry,  and 
the  esurient  were  not  sent  empty  away.  But  the  Duke  (just  now 
there  is  only  one  in  Ireland)  was  not  at  breakfast,  and  it  soon 
transpired  that  he  was  not  to  be  seen  in  these  latitudes  to-day. 
So  Kilmessan  village,  that  had  pranked  itself  out  in  extra  bravery 
in  honour  of  the  occasion  (the  show  of  Galway  red  cloaks  was 
worthy  of  the  poppy  fields  of  India),  was  forced  to  content  itself 
with  the  cortege  of  the  hunt,  minus  its  own  particular  bright  star  of 
loyal  expectation ! 

Swainstown,  Mr.  Preston's  park,  did  not  hold  to-day  as  it  did 
on  the  occasion  of  my  last  visit,  so  we  trotted  on  to  Kilcarty 
Gorse,  and  the  find  there  was  so  quick  that  those  who  loitered 
to  coffee-house,  or  exchange  their  hacks  for  hunters,  had  to  gallop 
very  fast  to  make  up  lee  way.  The  fox  broke  handsomely  in  a 
north-westerly  direction,  giving  the  field  a  large,  safe  double  for 
their  initial  fence.  He  then  inclined  to  the  right,  running  very 
fast  over  some  large  grass  fields,  till  a  short  check  let  up  the 
tail  men.  Then  the  line  took  us  to  a  road  by  Cortestown  (Mr. 
Wilkinson's  neat  residence),  and  from  that  point  the  hounds 
hunted  him,  with  very  catchy  scent,  for  about  a  mile  and  a  half, 
till  we  came  to  the  Trim  branch  of  the  Meath  line,  which  our  fox 
probably  ran,  and  here  we  left  him,  the  Boyne  not  being  far  off. 
There  was  plenty  of  fencing  in  the  line  we  had  travelled,  and 
lots  of  leisure  to  look  at  our  neighbours  and  the  performances, 
meritorious  or  otherwise,  of  their  hunters.  I  saw  a  hard  welter 
weight  get  a  very  phenomenal  sort  of  fall  at  a  big  up-bank,  the  horse 
slipping  up  against  one  of  the  hounds,  whom,  however,  he  did  not 
seriously  injure.  A  projecting  bough  of  a  tree  hurled  another 
man,  who  was  riding  a  very  neat  ci-devant  chaser,  out  of  his  saddle. 
Old  Ironmould — who,  if  I  recollect  right,  once  made  Marie  Stuart 
gallop  her  best  at  a  finish — was  jumping  as  if  to  the  manner  and 


20  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

the  country  born;  while  a  very  neat  thoroughbred  grey,  belonging, 
I  think,  to  Mr.  Turbitt,  of  Dublin  (a  winner  too),  was  fencing  in 
beautiful  style.  Mr.  S.  Garnett's  Roscommon  Grey,  a  new  pur- 
chase, showed  very  well  in  the  field  to-day — a  master  of  weight, 
with  great  jumping  power;  and  so  did  a  very  hunting-like  horse  of 
the  same  colour  ridden  by  Miss  Coleridge,  of  which  I  heard  a  very 
high  character.  Mr.  Brown  was  carried  by  a  most  masterful- 
looking  chestnut.  Mr.  Dunn  is  always  seemingly  well-mounted, 
and  the  Hon.  Captain  Rowley's  chestnut  and  Mr.  Stewart's  big 
brown  mare  were  good  samples  of  their  classes.  But  we  have  now 
crossed  the  Meath  line,  and  are  in  that  beautifully  green  valley 
bisected  by  the  metals,  the  gentle  acclivities  of  which  are  crowned 
by  Killeen  and  Dunsany  Castles  on  one  side,  by  Warrenstown  and 
Batterjohn  on  the  opposite.  A  straight  point-to-point  fox  chase 
in  such  a  wilderness  of  parks  and  demesnes  is  at  this  time  of  the 
year  not  to  be  calculated  on,  but  en  revanche  there  was  a  fine  show 
of  game,  and  from  the  road  it  was  a  perfect  treat  to  view  the 
many-coloured  packs  streaming  over  the  pastures  between  the 
woodlands.  One  tod  I  saw  killed;  another  run  to  ground.  Of 
the  sequel  in  the  afternoon  I  cannot  speak  with  confidence. 

The  Kildare  hounds  spent  their  fore  and  afternoon  of  this  date 
in  the  Duke  of  Leinster's  extensive  woods  at  Carton,  but  without 
much  sport  or  good  result. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  really  met  to-day  at  Ashbourne.  Of 
the  feasting,  carousing,  hard  riding,  and  sociality  which  a  beauti- 
ful day  and  pleasant  surroundings  encouraged,  I  must  speak  in  a 
future  letter,  having  exceeded  my  limit. 

P.S. — The  opening  meet  of  the  Ward  Union  hounds  on  the  25th 
was  a  most  unequivocal  success,  judged  by  any  test  you  please — 
the  size  of  the  field,  the  vast  gallery  of  critics  and  spectators,  or 
the  quality  of  the  sport,  of  which  I  can  only  send  you  a  precis  just 
now,  reserving  details  for  another  occasion.  About  2.30  p.m.,  an 
untried  red  stag  was  enlarged  in  the  lands  of  Beltrasna,  not  very 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  2.1 

far  from  Ashbourne,  and  he  was  running  in  the  direction  of  Kil- 
brick,  when  a  colley  dog  headed  him,  and  thus  spoilt  a  very 
promising  gallop ;  for  the  stag,  mindful  of  the  deer-park  and  his 
companions,  turned  back  towards  the  place  of  his  enlargement, 
and  after  giving  us  a  sharp  mile  or  more  in  view,  was  secured 
close  by  Fleenstown.  A  second  red  hind  fared  better  than  her 
predecessor,  for  she  led  her  pursuers  a  rare  dance  "by  Kilrue, 
Balfestown,  the  Fairy  House  raceourse,  towards  Caulstoun,  and  so 
on  into  darkness  and  temporary  liberty.  There  was  tremendous 
grief,  and  two  valuable  hunters  succumbed  to  the  pace,  distance, 
and  recurring  obstacles. 

The  opening  scenes  of  fox-hunting  in  Louth  were  equally  bril- 
liant and  successful. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 


III. 


"  Make  me  feel  the  wild  pulsation  I  have  often  felt  before, 
When  my  horse  went  on  before  me,  and  my  hack  was  at  the  door." 


Opening  day  with  "the  Wards"— With  the  Louth  hounds— The  Flat  House- 
West  Meath,  etc. 

THOSE  readers  of  The  Field  who  followed  "  Triviator's  "  records 
of  the  fleeting  chase  in  Ireland  last  season  will  recollect  that  the 
Ward  Union  opening  meet  was  like  that  of  the  witches  on  the 
blasted  heath — in  thunder,  lightning,  and  in  rain.  The  two 
former  may  be  poetic  licenses;  the  latter  was  a  most  prosaic 
force,  of  such  huge  antagonistic  power  that  it  quite  vetoed  all 
chance  of  hunting  in  safety  or  comfort  in  these  flooded  tracts ; 
so  that  a  hunting  council  convened  at  Ashbourne  (aye,  even 
credite  posteri,  after  much  solid  and  fluid  refreshment  had  been 
snugly  concealed  and  stowed  away  about  the  persons  of  these 
same  friends  in  council)  decided  that  hunting  the  stag  must  be 
postponed  that  day.  So  we  returned,  well  fed,  indeed,  and  well 
cared  for  in  every  way,  but  minus  the  object  of  our  visit  to 
Ashbourne.  For  three  subsequent  days,  if  my  memory  serves 
me,  did  the  Hyades,  the  Pleiades,  and  all  the  patrons  and 
patronesses  of  the  watery  element  who  had  ever  been  translated 
to  the  galaxy  above  by  the  pantheistic  Ovid,  fight  in  their  courses 
against  stag-hunting.  A  week  ago,  and  it  seemed  odds  on  a 
recurrence  of  a  similar  rainy  experience.  The  brimming  rivers 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  23 

were  flooding  their  callow  lands  everywhere,  and  there  appeared 
no  pause  or  intermission  of  the  downpour.  Since  Saturday, 
however,  the  weather  has  worn  quite  another  aspect.  Sat  prata 
biberunt  was  the  edict,  and  the  refreshed  pastures  of  Meath  and 
Dublin  never  shone  in  a  richer  lustre  of  green ;  nature,  in  the 
perfect  hush  and  lull  which  succeeded  the  fierce  rain  tempests, 
never  wore  a  lovelier  aspect.  The  air  was  balmy,  and  the  poet's 
or  poetaster's  couplet, 

"  If  thou  wouldst  see  green  Erin  aright, 
View  it  in  autumn's  mellow  light ; " 

was  never  better  realised  by  tourists  and  visitors  to  our  many 
points  of  interest  and  natural  beauty.  The  corn  has  been  almost 
universally  carried,  the  hay  ricked  long  ago.  The  fine  week 
came  most  opportunely  for  the  potato  harvest,  as  that  critical 
and  delicate  tuber — for  which  no  national  substitute  has  ever 
been  discovered — has  shown  some  symptoms  of  premature  decay 
already,  and  it  is  of  vital  importance  that  the  many  thousands 
of  tons  now  being  dug  and  pitted  through  the  length  and  breadth 
of  the  land,  should  be  put  together  as  dry  and  safely  as  possible. 
Sat  prata  biberunt!  Nationally  and  insularly,  we  may  be  very 
thankful  for  our  harvest  prospects  and  realities.  The  pants  is 
tolerably  safe  and  abundant ;  the  circenses  begin  everywhere. 

"  Uprise  ye,  then,  my  merry,  merry  men, 
This  is  our  opening  day. " 

Scant  need  is  there  to  din  the  refrain  into  Dublin  ears,  as 
the  opening  of  the  kennel  and  deer-park  doors  at  Ashbourne 
for  the  season  is  a  very  great  function  in  that  sporting  metropolis, 
and  politics  and  polemics  are  temporarily  absorbed  in  its  en- 
grossing vortex.  Coaches,  civil  and  military,  are  converging 
towards  the  northern  road,  well  freighted  with  hunting  men  and 
women.  Led  horses  have  preceded  them  by  an  hour,  while 
on-lookers  have  had  an  opportunity  of  contrasting  the  neat,  well- 
bred,  well-fed,  well-groomed,  lumberless  hunter  of  the  century 


24  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

with  that  gaudy  equine  monstrosity  of  the  worst  Flemish  type 
which  victorious  William  bestrides  in  "  College  Green,"  remind- 
ing me  far  more  of  a  Roman  imperator  than  of  a  hard-fighting 
Dutch  prince. 

"On  horseback  Nero  mounted,  crown 'd  with  bays," 

occurs  to  me  as  I  pass  this  curious  caperer  in  mid  air.  The 
road  to  the  kennels  is  as  dreary,  monotonous  a  stretch  as  even 
Northern  Germany  can  produce  (which  is  handicapping  it  un- 
commonly high),  and  the  ten  long  Irish  miles  seem  to  par- 
take somewhat  of  the  German  standard.  Ashbourne  itself — 
I  speak  it  with  all  respect  to  its  constituted  authorities — is  as 
"  one-horse,  tin-pot  a  city,"  to  use  the  Yankee  idiom,  as  need  be 
desired ;  but  the  huntsman's  establishment  (Charles  Brindley's), 
which  combines  more  or  less  club-house,  reception  rooms,  private 
residence,  deer-park,  kennels,  and  stables,  is  to  the  hunting  eye 
the  redeeming  and  interesting  feature  of  the  village.  With  many 
who  entered  long  ago  to  stag — peradventure  when  soldiering  in 
Ireland,  or  aiding  the  republic  by  their  counsel  and  statecraft 
(by  republic  I  mean  the  public  weal,  for  we  are  monarchical  of 
the  monarchical  here) — but  whose  lives  are  no  longer  cast  in  such 
pleasant  hunting  scenes  as  Dublin  presents, 

"  Memory  will  stoop  to  trace 
The  parlour  splendours  of  that  festive  place — 
The  whitewash'd  wall,  the  neatly  sanded  floor, 
The  varnish'd  clock  that  stood  behind  the  door. " 

This  is  not  exactly  a  photograph;  but  few,  I  ween,  will  forget 
the  solid  comforts  and  civilities  they  have  met  at  Ashbourne  and 
its  well-ordered  interior.  To-day  it  was  really  en  ftte.  A  fore- 
noon so  still,  warm,  and  beautiful,  that  a  thunder  shower  seemed 
the  only  thing  to  fear,  had  tempted  an  enormous  section  of 
Dublin  to  make  a  day  of  it  with  the  staghounds,  and  thither 
they  flocked  in  hundreds,  if  not  thousands,  in  cars,  carriages, 
and  a  medley  of  wheels  not  unworthy  of  Epsom  Downs ;  the 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  25 

distance  from  either  metropolis  not  being  wholly  dissimilar.  Here 
is  the  "  Sans  Souci "  drag,  enormously  loaded — a  most  workman- 
like affair,  and  as  effective  as  ornamental,  for  it  is  seemingly 
ubiquitous ;  three  or  four  regimental  coaches  follow  or  lead  it. 
Here  are  a  train  or  two  of  polo  carts  drawn  by  miniature  hunters  ; 
a  capital  tandem  of  well-broken  horses  follows;  then  a  perfect 
procession  of  "side"  cars,  and  a  few  buggies,  gigs,  carts,  etc., 
among  whom  Mr.  Allen,  the  well-known  V.S.,  drives  decidedly 
the  smartest  stepper  in  a  very  neat  blue  roan  mare.  The  Garrison 
sends  a  small  squadron,  recruited  chiefly  from  the  Inniskillings 
and  3rd  Dragoon  Guards,  the  latter  regiment  still  in  mourning 
for  that  promising  young  officer,  Lieutenant  Lees,  who  was  recently 
killed  in  the  Phoenix  Park  by  his  horse  falling  over  timber.  Captain 
Kearney,  Messrs.  Trotter,  Kearsley,  etc.,  represent  Meath  well 
and  truly  in  good  mounts.  Dublin  has,  of  course,  turned  out 
in  force,  and  the  Ward  Union  men  (proper)  show  a  few  very 
nice-  hunters  in  their  division — none,  however,  better  or  truer 
shaped  than  a  dark  brown  stalliony  sort  of  hunter  that  carried 
Mr.  Leonard  Morrogh,  for,  I  fancy,  the  first  time  this  season.  But 
the  play  is  about  to  begin. 

Let  us  leave  the  lively  array  of  driving  people,  and  turn  up  the 
Binding  lane.  Now  jump  a  small  bank  and  ditch,  and  you  will 
find  yourself  among  wide  grassy  fields,  a  unit  in  a  very  large  body 
of  riders,  for  the  most  part  very  hard;  but  we  cannot  pause  to 
survey  them  now.  The  watches  tell  us  that  the  red  stag  (not  a 
notorions  public  performer)  has  had  his  full  law.  Charlie  Brind- 
ley  and  his  son,  gorgeous  in  new  unstained  pinks  (as  erst  her 
Majesty's  mail  guards  on  May-day),  are  laying  on  the  dappled 
pack,  and  their  music,  as  the  bouquet  de  cerf  catches  their  spreading 
nostrils,  tells  us,  with  all  the  force  of  dog  eloquence,  that  every 
second  must  now  be  utilised.  The  stag  has  treated  the  field 
kindly;  for  the  first  three  or  four  impediments  are  small  water 
jumps — nothing  to  the  trained  hunter,  though  even  to  them  objec- 
tions are  made  by  sundry  recalcitrant  over-fresh  or  nervous  steeds; 


26  HIBERN1A    VENA  TIC  A. 

but  one  ditch,  about  the  fourth  or  fifth,  causes  grief  in  the  array, 
and  a  grey  horse  seems  to  require  the  aid  of  a  crowd  to  extract 
him  out  of  a  gripe.  A  loose  horse  or  two  now  prance  about 
in  much  delight,  as  if  they  knew  by  instinct  that  men  in  tops  and 
leather  are  but  poor  runners.  The  line  seems  to  lead  on  towards 
Priestown  and  Kilbride.  Presently,  however,  our  stag  turns  sharp 
back  (a  colley  dog  has  done  this),  and  for  about  a  mile  or  two  is 
hunted  in  view  over  a  beautiful  bit  of  country,  till  at  Fleenstown 
he  is  secured,  more  or  less  uninjured.  The  day  was  very  trying 
to  condition.  I  think  the  deer  felt  it,  and  so  did  all  hounds  and 
horses  who  were  not  in  tiptop  order,  as  the  atmosphere  was  almost 
unseasonably  warm  and  balmy,  and  of  wind  there  was  none. 
Flasks  are  now  emptied.  Those  who  can  draw  upon  large  studs 
get  on  second  horses  (one  envies  Captain  O'Neal,  who  can  send 
home  Jonah,  and  mount  another  perhaps  as  perfect),  and  away 
pricks  a  much  diminished  procession  to  hunt  a  second  deer  while 
the  day  still  vouchsafes  an  hour's  more  light.  She  proved  equal 
to  her  reputation  of  last  year,  did  this  red  hind,  Lady  Domville ; 
for,  enlarged  by  Killegland,  with  only  a  minute's  start,  she  simply 
ran  her  foes  out  of  time  and  out  of  light,  and  secured  her  liberty 
for  the  present  at  least.  Mr.  Trotter  lost  a  valuable  hunter  in  this 
run,  and  Mr.  Allan  M'Donough  was  equally  unfortunate.  The 
line  by  Caulstoun,  the  Fairy  House,  etc.,  was  superb ;  the  going 
very  good. 

It  is  the  fashion  to  complain  of  the  want  of  feathered  game  in 
Ireland,  and  the  complaint  has  much  truth  in  it,  as  those  know 
full  well  who  have  toiled  weary  leagues  and  jumped  ditches 
innumerable,  and  have  not  met  ten  head  of  such  game  all  day 
long  in  their  peregrinations,  and  these  too  wild  to  give  the  gunner 
a  chance.  Where  there  is  real  preservation  game  accumulates  in 
Ireland;  witness  this  fact,  that  in  four  days  five  guns  shot  135 
brace  of  partridges  ten  days  ago  at  Creggs,  in  Galway,  on  grass 
farms  for  the  most  part,  and  not  entering  a  single  turnip  field  in 
their  travels !  Every  foxhunter  knows  that  the  magpie  is  a  certain 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  27 

rtncontre  on  his  way  to  a  meet,  sometimes  in  pairs,  sometimes 
in  flocks.  If  superstitious,  he  may  make  auguries  from  their  flight 
and  numbers;  but  these  birds  are  of  comparatively  recent  introduc- 
tion into  Ireland,  and  the  way  they  increase  and  multiply  is  mar- 
vellous. Superstition  hedges  them  round  with  a  sort  of  reverence ; 
so,  as  a  rule,  they  are  not  trapped  or  shot,  or  minished  in  any 
way,  and  they  indulge  their  nice,  taste  in  game  eggs  to  the  utter 
ruin  of  the  game  supply  of  the  island. 

The  Louth  hounds  press  hard  on  their  neighbours  of  Meath  in 
their  zeal  and  forwardness  in  the  fox  campaign,  for  they  began 
their  regular  season  on  the  24th  inst.,  at  Castle  Bellingham;  and 
if  the  Latin  proverb  about  a  good  beginning — or,  in  fact,  a  begin- 
ning at  all — be  apposite  to  hunting,  these  hounds  have  already 
grasped  success  for  the  year  forthcoming.  Just  as  they  were  draw- 
ing for  their  first  fox,  "the  animal"  emerged  from  a  hedgerow  with 
his  head  turned  for  Dromina,  the  pack  on  good  terms  with  him ; 
thence  he  made  his  way  to  Dromisken,  turned  to  the  right,  and 
got  to  ground  at  Sea  Bank,  on  the  fringe  of  the  Channel — a  very 
sharp  burst  of  twelve  minutes.  The  next  move  was  to  Braggans- 
town,  which,  as  usual,  literally  swarmed  with  foxes,  and  it  was  a 
piece  of  rare  luck  that  there  was  no  division,  but  that  the  pack 
unanimously  settled  to  one,  who  rang  back  by  Drumcashel,  then 
made  for  Baron  and  Derrycarna  to  Corballis,  where  he  crossed  the 
river,  gained  Irishtown  and  Gadderstown  Gorse,  but,  unable  to 
stay  there,  made  a  supreme  effort  to  reach  Ardee  House  covert, 
in  which  effort  he  broke  down,  and  was  rolled  over  by  the  Red 
House  Gate,  after  a  chase  of  ih.  i5min.,  of  which  the  greater 
part  was  capital  for  riders — all  a  most  meritorious  performance 
of  the  pack.  Few  opening  chapters  in  hunting  chronicles  will 
contain  a  brighter  record  than  this,  from  the  Land's  End  to  the 
last  point  of  Caledonian  hunting  enterprise  (and  it  does  require 
enterprise  to  organise  fox-hunting  in  such  uninviting  soil  and  sur- 
roundings). Apropos  of  the  advantages  that  hunting  men  and 
hunting  horses  enjoy  in  Ireland,  let  me  record  the  somewhat  preg- 


28  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

nant  fact  that  in  rather  more  than  a  week's  hunting  I  can  only 
recollect  having  crossed  two  minute  plough  patches — one  cropped 
with  potatoes,  the  other  with  turnips.  Think  of  this,  ye  heavy 
pursuers  who  toil  painfully  through  hock-deep  plough — aye,  in  the 
heart  of  the  Shires — till  it  requires  the  courage  and  resolution  of  a 
Murat  or  Osbaldeston  to  put  your  hunter  at  yon  stiff  post-and- 
rails,  with  six  to  four  on  a  fall,  scramble,  or  what  the  Yankees  call  a 
"declension,"  Anglic^  a  refusal.  There  is  some  difference  between 
going  on  the  top  of  the  ground  and  through  it.  Horses  know  it, 
hunting  men  know  it,  valets  know  it;  last,  but  not  least,  your 
cheque-book  knows  it,  especially  in  the  post-Christmas  months. 

On  Friday  the  hunting  programme  for  those  living  near  the 
metropolis  consisted  of  a  meet  with  Mr.  Maxwell's  harriers  at 
Queenstown,  and  for  early  risers  the  Meath  hounds  at  Philpots- 
town.  I  can  myself  only  testify  to  an  exceptionally  pleasant  bye 
afternoon  with  Mr.  George  Brooke's  i8in.  and  i9in.  harriers, 
models  of  symmetry,  who  utterly  astonished  me  by  their  capacity 
for  driving  at  great  pace,  and  their  ability  to  compass  the  very 
large  barriers  which  divide  pasture  farms  anywhere  near  Dublin. 
Mr.  Maxwell's  harriers  had,  I  hear,  only  a  moderate  fifteen  minutes, 
which  was  rather  a  strong  contrast  to  their  last  appearance  in  pub- 
lic; but  the  Meath  hounds  had  so  satisfactory  and  satisfying  a  day 
that  the  pack  went  back  to  kennel  somewhere  about  two  o'clock 
p.m. — the  best  evidence  in  the  world  that  all  the  actors  in  the  fox 
drama,  (the  victims  alone  excepted)  were  thoroughly  pleased  with 
the  performance.  They  met  at  Philpotstown,  and,  finding  at  once 
there,  rattled  their  fox  towards  Rathmore  for  about  thirty  minutes, 
when  he  crawled  into  some  outbuildings,  and,  as  the  pack  do  not 
crave  blood,  he  was  not  persecuted  to  the  death.  The  second 
draw  was  Meadstown,  from  whence  they  drove  a  fox  handsomely 
into  the  open  towards  Philpotstown,  and  rolled  him  over  in  about 
half  an  hour — thirty-five  minutes  actually,  if  one  must  be  accurate. 

On  Saturday  the  Ward  Union  meeting  point  was  Kilrue,  and 
his  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught,  with  a  large  party, 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  29 

attended  the  trysting  place.  The  day,  warm  and  still,  bordered 
on  fogdom,  and  I  have  no  doubt  the  same  combinations  of  ex- 
halations which  made  a  haze  here  would  have  created  a  dense 
"  London  particular "  on  the  banks  of  Father  Thames.  A  trot  of 
a  mile  or  so  brought  the  cortege  to  the  wide  grass  lands  of  Bally- 
hack,  where  a  very  slight  undulation  gives  an  extensive  view 
over  the  surrounding  pastures.  Here  a  red  hind,  known  as 
Lady  Langford — from,  I  think,  the  fine  gallop  she  gave  last 
year  to  that  nobleman's  park — was  enlarged,  when  she  went 
away  tolerably  straight,  then  inclined  a  bit  to  the  left,  and 
wended  her  way  by  Ratoath  village,  leaving  Sutherland  to  the 
left,  and  with  Garrison  Hill  for  her  beacon  and  landmark  in 
front.  Scent  was  anything  but  good,  and  though  the  hounds 
hunted  steadily  and  well,  they  had  no  driving  energy  to-day ; 
so  Milady  of  Langford — whether  headed  or  not  on  her  track  I 
cannot  aver — presently  retraced  her  course  to  Ratoath,  passed 
by  Mr.  Corballis's  house,  and  pointed  towards  the  Fairy  House, 
with  its  skeleton  array  of  stands,  which  loomed  very  large  in 
their  emptiness.  Whether  a  very  long,  dragging,  unexciting 
chase — if  chase  it  can  be  fairly  called — ended  in  a  capture  or 
not,  I  cannot  say,  seeing  I  joined  the  homeward-bound  fleet. 
There  was  a  great  deal  of  big  jumping,  and  one  or  two  "main 
drains,"  almost  wide  enough  for  a  steam  launch,  were  crossed 
by  a  select  few.  The  Duke  of  Connaught  seemed  to  revel  in 
big  jumping,  and  was  admirably  carried  by  his  dark  brown 
hunter,  who,  if  not  already  named,  might  be  appropriately  called 
"  Chancellor,"  as  this  son  of  The  Lawyer  has  already  attained 
the  highest  eminence  among  the  sons  of  law  and  lawyers. 

On  Monday  the  Ward  Union  Hunt  rendezvoused  at  the 
Flat  House,  not  very  far  from  Dunboyne,  and,  consequently, 
about  a  dozen  of  English  miles  from  Dublin.  The  Flat  House 
is  not  so  called  because  it  crowns  a  hilly  country,  on  the  lucus 
a  non  principle;  its  nomenclature  is  perfectly  apposite  to  the 
locality,  which  is  a  sort  of  pasture  field,  only — unfortunately  for 


3o  HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI  C A. 

many — a  pasture  field  with  a  large  number  of  natural  and 
artificial  subdivisions,  in  which  it  is  quite  possible  for  man  and 
horse  to  lie  perdu  for  ever  so  long,  unless  the  rescuer  be  at 
hand.  The  very  levelness  of  the  country  involves  several  feet 
of  extra  depth  in  the  ditches  to  carry  off  the  superficial  water, 
not  to  speak  of  the  necessary  strength  and  size  of  fences  in 
all  countries  depastured  by  bullocks.  The  meet  was  not  a  large 
one  by  any  means,  or  comparable  to  Saturday's ;  but  a  glance 
at  men  and  horses  told  at  once  that  riding  was  the  ruling  motive 
of  the  day  and  hour,  not  coffee-housing,  pic-nicking,  or  the 
various  causes  and  impulses  which  swell  a  meet  of  fox-hounds 
in  a  favourite  neighbourhood.  Several  of  the  horses  had  per- 
formed in  public ;  several  would  probably  do  so  again  next 
spring  and  summer;  while  the  field  contained  not  a  few  gentle- 
men jocks  whose  names  are  not  unfamiliar  in  chasing  circles  here 
and  on  the  far  side  of  the  Channel. 

A  mile  or  two  brought  us  to  the  starting  point,  and  in  the 
first  field  it  was  quite  evident,  whatever  be  the  proper  term  for 
the  odora  vis  of  deer,  that  rose — call  it  by  any  name  you  please 
— was  shedding  a  perfume  most  enjoyable  and  titillating  to  the 
nostrils  of  the  big  dog  pack,  who  travelled  along  most  merrily 
and  musically.  The  first  two  or  three  fences  were  nice  open 
rhenes,  which,  however,  let  in  a  quota  of  the  field.  At  first 
the  line  seemed  to  incline  to  the  left  of  Porterstown ;  but 
those  who,  like  myself  and  a  few  more,  rode  wide  here, 
were  presently  wholly  out  of  it,  as  the  deer's  course  was 
under  the  old  Fairy  House  Cottage,  and  thence  round  towards 
Ratoath,  where  pursuit  ended  in  capture.  A  fresh  deer  was 
enlarged  about  a  couple  of  hundred  yards  to  the  left  of  the 
Fairy  House  Grand  Stand,  with  the  brook  of  the  same  name 
immediately  in  front.  It  struck  me  that  the  quarry  had  been 
handicapped  rather  rigidly  as  to  time;  at  any  rate,  for  a  couple 
of  miles  the  pace  was  most  enlivening — and  the  fencing,  though 
very  sound  and  fair  for  a  horse  that  threw  his  heart  over  well  to 


HIBERNIA    YEN  A  TIC  A.  31 

the  far  side,  was  certainly  of  wider  proportions  than  one  often 
meets  in  any  hunting  country.  Grief  did  abound,  certainly, 
though  I  do  not  think  there  was  a  single  bad  accident ;  but  the 
line  leads  us  on  through  Harborstown,  across  a  bye-road,  into 
which  there  was  some  grief,  and  so  on  across  the  metals  towards 
Baytown  Park,  where  I  must  leave  them  still  running.  A  red 
coat  and  a  grey  jacket  got  a  strong  lead  after  jumping  the  first 
fence ;  and,  as  their  hunters  crossed  the  large  obstacles  in  their 
path  without  pause,  dwell,  or  turn,  they  were  not  likely  to  be 
deprived  of  their  pride  of  place,  and  certainly  were  not  so  far  as 
my  vision  carried  me. 

To  return  to  Meath  and  its  hunting  annals.  I  must  hark 
back  to  an  unnoticed  but  very  good  day  last  Thursday,  when  Drews- 
town  supplied  them  with  a  capital  straight-going  fox,  who  ran  by 
Kilskyre,  then,  heading  for  the  right,  made  Clonabraney — Mr. 
Wade's  fine  park — where,  owing  to  the  severe  illness  of  the  owner, 
the  hounds  were  stopped.  The  second  fox  emerged  from  Sylvan 
Park,  ran  by  Balrath,  and  was  killed  in  a  pond  near  the  town  of 
Kells,  after  some  beautiful  hunting. 

Friday,  the  27th,  I  have  already  alluded  to;  but  I  have  not 
recorded  that  the  grief  was  in  proportion  to  the  brilliancy  of  the 
sport,  for  which  a  river  and  a  huge  double  on  the  way  to  Meads- 
town  are  mainly  responsible,  as  I  am  informed.  Goodall,  Mr. 
Trotter,  and  an  English  visitor,  Mr.  Stratford,  were  first  in  the  run 
all  through,  I  hear,  the  latter  riding  Mr.  Montgomery's  well-known 
chestnut. 

On  Saturday  they  met  at  Crossdrum,  and  had  a  very  enjoyable 
thirty-two  minutes  from  Beltrasna,  killing  in  the  open  between 
Armagh  and  Sallymount.  From  the  bog  covert  of  the  latter  place 
they  had  a  long  hunting  run  of  one  hour  and  forty  minutes  to 
ground. 

Louth  continues  as  it  began.  On  the  26th  Mr.  Filgate  was  at 
Townley  Hall,  and  killed  an  old  dog  fox  there  after  an  hour's 
woodland  hunting.  He  then  rattled  the  foxes  at  Mellifont  and 


32  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Macey's  Glen,  marking  one  of  the  latter  to  ground.  On  the  28th 
they  were  at  the  Mills  of  Louth ;  found  at  Drumgowra  Gorse, 
rattled  their  fox  over  Tully,  Feraghs,  and  the  river,  on  through 
Knockhably,  where  they  killed,  after  a  capital  seventeen  minutes. 
Another  was  then  marked  to  ground,  and,  after  one  hour  and  fifty- 
five  minutes,  a  very  ringing  fox  from  Knockhably  Gorse  was 
broken  up. 

The  meeting  of  the  Kildare  hounds  at  Johnstown  Inn — for  the 
first  time  this  season — on  Tuesday,  the  3ist  ult,  was  a  very  fine 
piece  of  hunting  pageantry ;  and,  taking  numbers,  scenery,  and 
accessories  into  account,  it  is  probably  almost  unrivalled  in  the 
three  kingdoms — certainly  nothing  in  Ireland  can  approach  it. 
The  day  was  lovely  in  the  extreme,  though  hardly  suggestive  of 
strong  scent.  The  loyal  hope  of  meeting  his  Royal  Highness  the 
Duke  of  Connaught,  who  is  on  a  visit  to  the  Duke  of  Leinster  at 
Carton  just  now,  no  doubt  added  a  certain  proportion  of  fair  faces 
in  fair  frames  to  the  cortege;  but  this  attraction  apart,  given  a 
moderately  inviting  forenoon,  you  may  bet  six  to  four  any  day  on 
an  immense  gathering  in  the  High-street  of  Johnstown  on  the 
opening  festa  of  Kildare  foxhunting.  Drives  and  rides  through 
miles  of  park,  glimpses  of  the  hunted  fox  every  now  and  then, 
a  little  jumping  in  and  out  of  roads — what  conditions  could  be 
more  perfect  for  the  enormous  gallery  of  on-lookers  ?  Kerdiffstown 
and  Palmerstown  appeared  full  of  foxes ;  from  Bishopscourt  Stick 
Covert  some  three  at  least  were  expelled.  The  former  were  well 
rattled  through  their  familiar  fields  and  plantations  ;  of  the  latter, 
one  was  forced  out  of  his  native  haunts  into  the  neighbouring 
woods  of  Palmerstown,  but  an  accident  prevented  my  learning  his 
fate.  I  forgot  to  chronicle  a  nice  cubbing  run  which  this  pack 
had  ten  days  ago  from  the  Hill  of  Allen  Gorse  to  the  Curragh. 
The  Newbridge  harriers  found  an  outlier  the  same  afternoon,  and 
had  a  wonderfully  straight  gallop  with  him. 

P.S. — The  3ist  of  October — a  day  to  be  much  remembered 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  33 

by  Irish  foxhood — was  also  the  opening  day  in  Western  Meath, 
when  game  proved  abundant,  and  the  woods  round  Lake  Belvi- 
dere  echoed  hound  music  for  hours.  In  Meath  the  day  was 
memorable  for  a  hunting  run  from  Walsh's  Gorse,  which  nearly 
gave  Goodall  his  quietus — wire  and  blindness  are  our  natural  and 
unnatural  enemies  at  this  season;  and  a  second  pursuit  of  an 
hour  and  a  quarter  from  Slater's  Gorse,  of  which  the  first  thirty- 
five  minutes  could  hardly  be  surpassed  for  pace.  In  Lismullen 
(Sir  J.  Dillon's  park)  some  five  foxes  turned  up,  but  the  conclusion 
was  unequal  to  its  first  impetus.  The  Ward  Union  hounds 
hunted  a  brace  of  deer  near  the  Black  Bull  on  the  ist,  but  neither 
proved  very  good. 


34  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 


IV. 

'  The  cry  is — Still  they  come ! ' 


Kildare's  opening  day — Pageant  at  Johnstown  inn  and  village — Allenstown — 
Lord  Darnley — Scariff  Bridge — Cork  and  Lord  Fermoy — Galway  and 
Mr.  Burton  Persse — Maynooth — Mr.  H.  Slubber  and  Colonel  Chaplin. 

"Suoni  la  Tromba  intrepido  ! "  No  longer  let  the  merry  hunter's 
horn  far  over  the  wooded  hills  be  borne  j  let  his  clarion  now  peal 
forth  through  broad  woodland,  over  dale  and  vale,  coppice  and 
gorse,  for  the  revolving  months  have  brought  us  to  the  threshold  of 
November's  calends.  The  sun,  say  the  astronomers,  is  about  to 
enter  the  sign  of  Sagittarius,  and  we  are  about  to  enter  on  the  war 
path  and  don  the  war  paint  once  more.  What  says  the  poet? 

"  Integer  vitae,  scelerisque  purus, 
Non  eget  Mauri  jaculis  neque  arcu, 
Nee  venenatis  gravida  sagittis, 
Fusee,  pharetrS. ; " 

which,  freely  translated,  may  run  somehow  thus : 

"  The  man  of  pure  and  blameless  life, 
He  need  not  arm,  like  Moor,  for  strife, 
Nor  seek  the  darts  with  poison  rife." 

Thank  Heaven,  we  may  leave  battles  to  the  Turkish  hordes,  and 
shed  the  blood  of  Scio's  vine  (preferring,  of  course,  Bordeaux,  save 
in  poetry),  grateful  indeed  that  our  battles  are  but  the  mimic 
forays  of  our  chivalry  on  the  invaders  of  our  hen  roosts — that  our 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  35 

great  games  are  but  war's  image :  a  preparation  'tis  true,  if  we  are 
to  harken  to  Pliny,  for  fiercer  contests,  if  such  be  our  fate;  for,  says 
that  wise  ancient,  those  who  were  designed  for  great  captains  were 
first  taught  to  contest  with  the  swiftest  wild  beasts  in  speed,  with 
the  boldest  in  strength,  with  the  most  cunning  in  craft  and 
subtlety.  " Cedant  arma  toga"  Let  partridge  and  grouse  pack  in 
peace;  let  pheasant  rustle  and  challenge  in  woods  and  hedgerows 
unharmed ;  be  motley  now  our  only  wear.  Let  us  fall  back  on 
pristine  custom  and  costume  in  casing  our  lower  and  middle  man 
in  the  skins  of  wild  beasts.  But  let  them  be  well  tanned  and 
white  as  the  driven  snow,  and  let  our  livery  be  the  national  red; 
for  the  analogy  of  war's  image  must  be  complete,  the  properties 
en  rtgle.  And  here  I  am  reminded  of  a  happy  repartee  made  to 
the  late  Viceroy  of  India,  the  Earl  of  Mayo,  by  one  of  his  tenants 
or  tenants'  sons,  who,  in  the  fanaticism  of  hunting  enthusiasm,  had 
walked  or  trotted  over  from  a  distant  part  of  Meath  to  see  the 
opening  meet  of  the  Kildare  hounds,  when  his  lordship  presided 
over  their  destinies,  and  the  kennels  were  at  Palmerstown.  "Why, 
Mick,"  said  his  lordship,  when  he  had  learned  that  the  sight  of  the 
hounds  was  the  sole  motive  for  a  journey  of  nearly  fifty  English 
miles,  "you  must  be  mad."  "Ah!  well,  well,  me  lord;  shure, 
if  we  were  all  out-and-out  sane,  there'd  be  little  fox-hunting  going!" 
How  witty !  How  wise !  How  epigrammatic !  But,  laying  aside 
generalities  and  ana,  however  apposite,  we  may  now  remark,  in 
the  terse  language  of  Mr.  Pigg,  "  that  the  tambourine  is  a  rowling  " 
all  over  Ireland — that  the  campaign  has  been  opened  everywhere. 
Let  us  hope  that  foxes  have,  for  their  own  sakes,  been  duly  har- 
ried; that  masters  have  explored  their  wide  demesnes,  and,  like 
the  youth  in  Comus, 

"  Know  each  lane  and  every  alley  green, 
Dingle  and  bushy  dell  of  this  wild  wood, 
And  every  bosky  bourne  from  side  to  side," 

in  every  part  of  their  dominions ;  that  the  same  cordial  kindliness 
cements  all  classes  concerned  in  the  fox  drama,  as  it  has  been 


3  6  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

wont  in  this  our  beautiful  island;  and  that  fox-hunting  may  be 
regarded  as  a  great  national  institution,  instead  of  a  vexatious 
"coruk"  imposed  by  one  set  of  men  on  another. 

In  Ireland — though  very  dramatic  in  action,  thought,  and 
speech — we  are  not  generally  theatrically  mad,  like  our  friends  in 
France,  when  a  premier  representation  must  be  seen  coute  qui 
coute.  We  reserve  such  fervour  for  the  opening  scenes  of  the  fox 
drama.  Witness  Johnstown  inn  and  Johnstown  village  on  the  3ist 
of  October !  I  suppose  the  levee  of  a  popular  viceroy  in  Ireland 
and  the  Castle  pageant  is  the  finest  parade  of  Ireland's  aristoi  in 
Church  and  State  to  be  witnessed;  but  what  is  that  to  the  levee 
and  drawing-room  combined  in  the  ante-chamber,  so  to  speak,  of 
Monsieur  Renard?  What  can  upholstery  do  to  rival  the  poly- 
chrome setting  of  the  glorious  woods,  with  the  blending  tints  of 
ruddy  beech,  red  gold  chestnut,  yellow  larch,  and  sycamore, 
contrasted  by  the  varying  greens  of  ivy,  holly,  yew,  and  sombre- 
hued  pines,  and  the  cold  shimmer  of  aspen  and  willow,  all  lit  up 
into  splendour  by  an  unclouded  sun?  From  10.30  carriages  of 
all  sorts  and  shapes  were  pouring  into  the  village  from  Naas  on 
one  side  and  Dublin  on  the  other.  These  were  the  main  portals, 
but  there  were  side  entrances  likewise.  By  eleven  o'clock  the 
main  street  was  so  full  that  the  then  arriving  coachmen  had  to 
content  themselves  with  outside  gallery  places.  All  space  near 
the  cynosure — -the  hounds  and  staff — was  taken  up;  indeed,  it  was 
no  easy  thing  for  a  horseman  on  the  quietest  and  handiest  of 
hacks  to  thread  his  way  through  the  densely  packed  array  and 
exchange  greetings  in  the  market  place  with  old  friends  and  com- 
panions, drawn  together,  it  may  be,  from  the  four  corners  of  the 
world  "known  to  moderns"  by  the  magic  and  magnetism  of  fox- 
hunting. Place  aux  dames,  and  les  grande  dames  of  course.  The 
Marchioness  of  Drogheda  never  misses  an  opening  meet  of  these 
hounds,  save  for  grave  reasons,  neither  does  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Forbes. 
Here  are  the  Lady  Annettee  La  Touche  and  party,  the  Ladies 
Fitzgerald,  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Barton  on  the  most  charming  of 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  37 

grey  chargers,  Mrs.  Moore,  of  Killashee,  Mrs.  Adare,  Mrs.  Lang- 
rishe,  Mrs.  Kennedy,  Miss  Kilbee,  Miss  O'Hanlon,  on  a  beautiful 
chestnut  mare,  and  hosts  more. 

The  Upper  House  was  well  represented  by  Lords  Cloncurry, 
Drogheda,  Clanmorris,  &c.;  the  staff  by  General  Seymour  and 
Captain  Lee;  the  household  by  Colonel  Forster  on  Greek  Fire. 
The  yth  Dragoon  Guards  sent  a  coach-load  under  charge  of 
Major  Wheble,  and  there  are  some  very  smart-looking  hunters 
in  the  regiment,  evidently.  The  Inniskillings  were  in  strong 
force ;  so  I  am  sure  would  have  been  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards, 
but  that  some  grave  military  necessity  interfered  (I  hope  no 
sinister  veering  of  the  war  vane).  Horse  Artillery  from  New- 
bridge, led  by  Mr.  Knox,  on  a  chaser  of  course,  and  with  a  new 
sort  of  leather  saddle  cloth  or  nummer — his  own  invention,  I 
think,  which  contained  such  necessary  appliances  as  a  spare  shoe, 
&c.,  very  neat  and  workmanlike.  The  4th  sent  Colonel  Bray  and 
some  Arabs,  of  which  I  should  like  to  have  Captain  R.  Upton's 
opinion.  The  75th  sent  Captain  Beresford  and  others.  Of 
the  Ashantee  campaign  we  are  reminded  by  the  Hon.  Major 
Wood  and  the  Hon.  Captain  Scott.  Sir  James  Power,  Bart, 
brought  a  drag-load  from  Dublin,  and  so,  I  think,  did  Mr. 
O'Reilly.  The  Ward  Union  men  were  very  strongly  represented, 
with  Mr.  Leonard  Morrogh,  as  usual,  beautifully  mounted.  In 
fact,  I  believe  there  were  actually  seven  coaches  all  loaded,  at  the 
meet.  The  larger  country  houses  near  the  scene,  such  as  Straffan 
and  Killashee,  had  evidently  tested  their  power  of  expansion  to 
the  utmost  limits.  Roseboro,  the  Hon.  Charles  Bourke's  bijou 
hunting  box  near  the  village,  was  bright  with  scarlet  riders  (if  not 
runners).  Masters  and  ex-masters  jostled  against  each  other  in 
the  crowd,  which,  if  mainly  insular,  was  composed  of  elements 
from  all  parts  of  the  island.  Verily,  if  Mr.  Edmund  Mansfield 
had  been  taking  a  theatrical  benefit,  he  could  not  have  craved  a 
more  bumper-like  house.  The  exchequer  must  have  made  huge 
progress  to-day  (nearly  300  half-crowns  were  paid  in);  and,  if 


38  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Kildare  and  her  fixtures  grow  so  deeply  into  the  popular  heart,  I 
shall  not  be  surprised  to  see  a  party  of  Cook's  excursionists  sent 
over  under  that  gallant  commander  and  Corvphoeus  to  "do" 
Ireland  in  ten  days,  including  a  fox  hunt  in  Kildare  with  property 
horses  chartered  from  a  circus  (cobbler's  wax  and  courage,  be  it 
Dutch  or  native,  to  be  found  by  the  excursionist  himself). 

But  while  we  are  taking  a  rapid  survey  of  the  dramatis  persona; 
while  we  are  rejoicing  in  seeing  such  veteran  sportsmen  as  Mr. 
Horace  Rochfort,  Captain  Wakefield,  Sir  James  Higginson,  and 
others  on  their  favourite  hunters  in  their  favourite  hunting  grounds, 
we  cannot  shut  our  eyes  to  the  gaps  that  the  mighty  hunter  Time 
has  made  in  our  wonted  array.  The  Squire  of  Castletown,  whose 
cheery  cordial  manner  ever  won  the  hearts  of  his  associates, 
whether  as  master  or  acting  master  of  the  Christchurch  Drag,  in  the 
Senate,  in  the  tumult  of  a  beaten  and  demoralised  army  (Lee's), 
or  at  the  covert  side  near  home,  has  gone  from  us  to  return  no 
more.  Mr.  A.  Love,  whose  broad  back  made  so  capital  a  beacon 
for  men  less  well  mounted  or  less  capable,  is  unable  to  ride  this 
season,  owing  to  severe  illness.  Mr.  W.  Lynch,  who  was  oftener 
seen  in  western  and  eastern  Meath  than  in  Kildare,  died  recently, 
to  the  grief  of  all  good  sportsmen.  The  strong  Indian  current 
tempts  others  away;  among  them  Lord  Kilmaine,  so  often  seen  in 
the  van  of  Kildare  pursuit.  I  forget  whether  it  is  the  centripetal 
or  centrifugal  force  which  draws  inwards  (my  scientific  education 
having  been  neglected,  and  "Joyce's  Dialogues"  not  being  within 
reach) ;  but  if  one  force  sent  away  some  wonted  sportsmen  to  more 
ambitious  hunting  fields,  another  proved  even  stronger  in  drawing 
men  to  the  programme  which  Kildare  and  her  caterers  had  pro- 
vided for  the  day  and  the  season.  Sir  Erasmus  Borrowes,  who  has 
been  an  absentee  for  some  time,  was  at  the  tryst,  mounted  on  a 
fine  lengthy  bay  horse,  that,  if  my  memory  deceives  me  not,  is  a 
half  brother  of  Caramel,  who  was  bred  within  a  field  or  two  of  the 
day's  draw.  Captain  St.  Leger  Moore,  forsaking  his  wonted  pastimes 
of  tent-pegging,  lemon  slicing,  and  all  those  Indian  feats  of  horse- 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  39 

manship  for  which  his  regiment  is  so  celebrated,  has  returned  for 
a  season  in  Kildare,  though  few  would  have  appeared  after  such  a 
shaking  and  marking  fall  as  he  sustained  yesterday:  His  brother, 
Mr.  Stephen  Moore,  is  also  in  the  field ;  but  time  and  space  would 
fail  me,  were  I  to  attempt  anything  like  a  catalogue  raisonne  of 
even  half  the  sportsmen  and  sportswomen  out,  and  will  only  add 
two  names,  as  they  represent  men  well  known  in  wider  circles 
than  Kildare — Mr.  Allan  M'Donough,  who  was  among  the  most 
successful  gentleman  riders  of  his  day,  and  Mr.  Thomas  Beasley, 
who  certainly  enjoys  that  distinction  at  present,  so  far  as  Irish 
courses  are  concerned.  But  the  vast  aggregation  has  been  stirred 
into  motion  by  the  mot  d'ordre  passed  on  to  Will  Freeman  and 
his  acolytes.  History  is  repeating  itself,  and  we  are  cantering  over 
the  turf  of  Kerdiffstown  Park,  while  innumerable  wheels  are  grind- 
ing the  front  of  the  avenue.  Presently,  the  house  passed,  we  are 
drawn  up  in  a  sort  of  space  in  a  large  grass  pasture,  separated 
from  the  good  gorse  to  our  left  front  by  only  a  few  hundred  yards. 
As  usual,  there  are  some  false  starts.  At  last  the  "  gone  away ! "  is 
a  reality;  the  fox  has  started  in  the  direction  of  Tipper,  and  in  five 
minutes  we  are  confronted  by  a  very  large  bank  and  brook,  too 
large  for  ordinary  men  and  ordinary  hunters.  The  hard  riders 
pause.  "  Tommy,  make  room  for  your  uncle,"  would  perhaps  have 
been  heard  if  the  scene  were  nearer  Cockneydom;  and  I'm  quite 
sure  the  adjured  would  have  accommodated  their  relatives.  At 
last  a  weaker  spot — two  weaker  spots,  appear;  fifty  pairs  of  hind 
shoes  are  in  the  air  nearly  simultaneously.  A  Ward  Union  man 
was,  I  think,  the  first  over;  and  soon  after  him  was  a  well-known 
welter  weight  on  a  grey,  whose  good  judgment  was  often  invoked 
in  selecting  hunters  for  the  Empress  of  Austria;  in  a  field  or  two 
a  loose  horse  was  no  novelty;  but  just  as  things  were  getting  a  bit 
animating  our  fox  turned  sharp  back  to  Kerdiffstown,  treated  us 
to  one  final  very  large  jump  off  a  bank  into  water  (for  it  was  too 
broad  to  cover),  and  then  succeeded  a  couple  of  hours  of  covert 
hunting  through  Kerdiffstown  and  Palmerstown  Parks,  varying 


4o  :HIBERNIA  VENA  TIC  A. 

with  the  scenting  power  of  the  day— never  very  high.  This  over, 
we  trotted  on  through  Kill  village  to  Bishopscourt,  where  the  Earl 
of  Clonmell — an  absentee  to-day— has  made  a  new  stick  covert  to 
do  duty  till  his  gorse,  recently  cut  down,  attains  its  full  growth. 
The  field,  posted  at  very  respectful  distance  from  the  drawing 
party,  presently  see  two  young  foxes  racing  away  through  the  park, 
their  heads  pointed  for  Oughterard  Hill;  while  others  have  seen 
an  old  fox  stealing  off  towards  Johnstown  Kennedy.  The  hounds 
were  put  on  to  the  young  ones,  and,  after  some  driving  round  the 
skirting  plantations,  one  was  forced  out  towards  Baron  Rath,  raced 
across  the  wide  galloping  fields  which  separate  Bishopscourt  from 
Palmerstown,  and,  after  some  time,  immolated,  for  the  huntsman 
must  have  a  mask,  pads,  and  brush  on  his  opening  day;  and  with 
this  closes  the  history  of  the  acta  of  the  Kildare  hounds  on  the 
3ist  of  October;  memorable,  not  for  any  very  high-class  sport,  but 
for  the  largest  and  most  brilliant  meet  which  has  perhaps  ever  been 
seen  in  Ireland — a  good  augury  for  the  coming  season. 

Turning  to  Meath  and  its  pack,  last  Thursday  witnessed  a 
much  smaller  assemblage  and  array  opposite  the  substantial  old 
mansion  of  Allenstown,  the  residence  of  Mr.  N.  Waller,  the 
popular  master  of  these  hounds — whence  many  generations  of 
Wallers  have  gone  forth  to  do'good  service  to  Queen  and  country, 
in  Church  and  State,  and  where  hounds  and  horses  have  always 
filled  stables  and  kennels,  be  the  quarry  of  the  time  and  fashion 
hare,  stag,  or  fox.  There  is  quite  a  sea  of  verdure  all  round, 
for  the  grass  land  is  of  Meath's  richest  quality  (letting  for  £6 
an  acre) ;  and  old  trees,  well  furnished  and  of  goodly  girth  and 
proportions,  tell  their  tale  of  long,  peaceful,  and  undisturbed 
proprietorship.  The  early  risers  had  seen  the  whole  landscape 
white  with  rime,  but  by  1 1  a.m.  of  the  clock  all  signs  of  Jack 
Frost's  handiwork  had  vanished.  A  warm  sun  had  done  his 
spiriting  quickly  and  well;  the  air  was  still  and  calm,  and 
if  the  accepted  theories  about  scent  did  not  bespeak  us  very 
lively  pursuit,  the  day  in  itself  was  enjoyable  in  the  extreme, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  41 

everything  looking  its  very  best;  and,  if  the  year  was  evi- 
dently dying,  it  was  fading  in  extreme  beauty,  with  all  the  iris 
hues  of  the  dying  dolphin  reflected  around.  Time  forbids  an 
enumeration  of  the  rank,  fashion,  and  beauty  whom  the  day's 
loveliness  and  the  pleasantly  inviting  scenery  had  drawn 
from  even  distant  homes,  but  among  the  ladies  in  front  of 
the  hall  door  were  Lady  Headfort  and  the  Ladies  Taylor, 
Mrs.  Garnet  and  Miss  Howard,  Miss  Waller,  Miss  Tisdale,  Mrs. 
Mortimer,  Mrs.  Dunville  and  party  ;•  while  among  the  men  were 
Mr.  Ratcliffe,  the  oldest  member  of  the  hunt  (his  age  is  pa- 
triarchal, his  appearance  the  reverse),  and  Master  Wilson-Patten, 
probably  the  youngest  follower  of  the  pack.  Captain  Roden  was 
here  too,  from  whom,  I  believe,  Lord  Wolverton  purchased  his 
famous  musicians. 

After  trying  some  woods  near  the  house  in  vain,  we  moved 
to  the  hill  of  Faughan,  a  grassy  knoll,  whose  wooded  top  is, 
bisected  by  a  very  wide  grassy  ride.  It  is  a  hill  only,  or  rather  a 
hillock,  but  as  the  one-eyed  man  is  great  and  king-like  among 
the  blind,  so  this  hill  surveys  no  less  than  thirteen  counties,  so 
level  and  low-lying  are  the  surrounding  grassy  plains.  I  tell 
the  tale  as  'twas  told  to  me,  for  a  kind  of  haze  prevented  any^ 
thing  like  an  extensive  view  to-day.  A  gorse  covert  lies  at  its 
base,  and  from  it  a  fox  emerged  at  once.  For  some  distance 
the  bitches  could  hardly  own  their  quarry,  though  he  was  close 
before  them,  but  presently  came  a  crash  of  melody,  and  then, 
heads  up,  sterns  down,  they  raced  down  the  acclivity,  and  fairly 
drove  him  past  Allenstown  House,  by  the  Laurel  Woods,  on 
past  Charlesfort  Park  (here  the  hounds  divided  for  a  short  time 
on  a  fresh  fox)  to  Moyagher,  when  he  turned  back  through 
Charlesfort,  made  some  loops  and  rings  between  this  place  and 
the  Kells  Railway,  scent  being  very  low  at  times.  He  was  then 
taken  past  Faughan  Hill  to  Martry,  and  in  the  very  act  of 
jumping  out  of  an  old  cemetery  there,  he  was  pulled  down  in 
the  surrounding  ditch,  after  a  pursuit  of  zhrs.  imin.,  of  which 


42  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

the  first  part  was  at  express  pace.  We  next  visited  an  osier  bed 
by  the  banks  of  the  Blackwater  (Mr.  Barnewell's  covert,  I  be- 
lieve), and  from  the  parallel  road  we  saw  the  pack  run  their  fox 
for  about  a  mile,  and  turn  him  up  handsomely  near  Bloomsbury. 

Rathmore  was  the  bonne  bouche  of  the  day,  much  longed 
for  by  the  hard-riding  division,  who,  headed  by  Captain  Trotter 
on  a  wonderfully  clever  grey  from  Limerick,  had  been  showing 
us  to  demonstration  that  a  right  line  is  the  shortest  way  of 
connecting  two  points,  no  matter  whether  timber,  rhene,  or 
frowning  bank  intervene,  and  thither  we  trotted  off  incontinent, 
as  the  day  and  light  were  already  on  the  wane.  It  is  a  very 
strong  gorse,  surrounded  by  plantations  and  flanked  by  a  ruined 
tower  and  a  ruined  church  of  much  architectural  beauty,  which 
are  both  full  of  interesting  memorials  and  traditions  of  the  Cruise 
and  Plunket  family,  once  lords  of  the  soil.  For  the  last  two 
centuries  or  more  the  broad  lands  round  the  big  Rath  have 
been  owned  by  the  Earls  of  Darnley,  whose  present  representa- 
tive has  done  as  much  for  fox-hunting  in  Meath  as  any  single 
proprietor  throughout  its  wide  extent.  A  quick  find  resulted 
from  the  throwing  of  the  pack  in,  three  or  four  foxes  on  foot, 
and  some  trouble  in  making  one  break  bounds.  At  last  he 
leaves  his  stronghold,  head  set  for  Allenstown ;  but,  frightened  by 
road  people  near  the  village  chapel,  he  hies  back  to  the  gorse,  and 
is  again  extruded.  Again  we  are  galloping  towards  Allenstown 
merrily  (some  three  or  four  miles  distant)  when  a  flock  of  sheep 
spoilt  scent,  and  though  the  line  was  recovered  it  was  too  late 
to  hunt. 

Copious  rain  fell  during  the  night,  and  was  falling  fast  as 
we  drove  westwards  to  Scariff  Bridge,  the  fixture  for  these  hounds 
on  the  following  day,  and  some  ten  or  twelve  miles  distant 
from  yesterday's  theatre  of  events.  Scariff  Bridge  is  near  nothing 
particular,  being  an  old-fashioned  bridge  over  the  river  Boyne. 
The  country  round  is  flat,  poor,  and  uninteresting,  the  fences 
look  like  many  falls,  and  on  several  sides  are  bits  of  that  bete 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  43 

tooir  of  Irish  hunting — bog.  A  large  field  was  not  expected, 
but,  the  downpour  notwithstanding,  there  was  a  very  fair  muster 
of  hunting  men  and  one  solitary  hunting  woman  to  the  fore. 
The  array  included  the  lord  of  the  manor,  Lord  Darnley, 
mounted  on  a  clever-looking,  capable,  bay  horse;  the  master, 
Mr.  Waller,  Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  Lord  Langford,  and  the  Hon. 
Captain  Rowley,  both  on  very  high-class  hunters,  a  grey  and 
brown ;  the  Earl  of  Howth,  on  a  lengthy  son  of  Eidolon,  and 
grandson  of  the  Flying  Dutchman;  Mr.  Sam  Reynell,  Messrs. 
Trotter,  Kearsley,  Kearney,  Montgomery,  Dunville,  Cuppage, 
Purdon,  Handley,  Alley,  etc.  Much  Wood,  which  for  two  miles 
or  so  slopes  down  to  the  Boyne,  was  our  first  try.  It  held  a 
fox,  whom  we  bustled  about,  but  could  do  nothing  with.  The 
next,  after  trotting  through  a  village  called  Ballivor,  was  a  wild 
gorse  heath  flanked  by  bog,  which,  I  heard,  was  called  Corney 
Cavan,  or  some  such  name,  and  which  an  old  native  seemed 
much  astonished  at  my  never  having  seen  before,  as  if  the  climax 
of  life  was  to  see  this  fox  haunt  (see  Naples  and  die  !).  It  held 
not  to-day;  but,  after  jumping  a  big  bog  drain,  which  furnished 
"stain"  for  a  saddle  or  two,  we  found  a  real  good  fox  in  one 
of  the  Elm  Grove  plantations,  who  ran  by  the  edge  of  the  gorse 
proper  without  a  moment's  dwell,  broke  through  some  planta- 
tions, and,  after  taking  us  over  some  rather  swampy  lands  not 
without  checks,  he  led  us  by  the  Earl's  Mills  into  Much  Wood, 
where,  having  sixteen  or  seventeen  miles  to  ride  home,  I  left 
him.  I  hear  Mr.  Brown,  the  owner  of  Elm  Grove,  is  one  of 
the  staunchest  preservers  of  foxes  in  his  district,  and  that  he 
has  given  the  hunt  a  covert  or  two.  His  hospitality  to  hungry 
hunting  men  has  become  proverbial,  and  such  "proverbial  phi- 
losophy "  in  a  hunting  country  finds  more  votaries  than  Tupper's. 
Meanwhile,  the  United  Hunt  in  Cork  have  not  been  idle. 
Their  opening  day  was  on  the  3oth  of  October,  and  a  brilliantly- 
mounted  assembly  did  it  honour,  including  Lord  Fermoy,  on  his 
well-known  hunter  Balyroberts.  Dundellerick  was  the  meeting- 


44  .HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

place,  and  a  fox  was  unfortunately  chopped  in  covert  here. 
Bolton's,  the  next  draw,  furnished  a  number  of  foxes,  of  which 
one  was  killed  after  a  very  enjoyable  ring  of  four  miles  or  so. 
Harry  Saunders,  the  new  huntsman  (vice  Mason),  seems  liked 
generally,  and  altogether  the  horizon  of  hunting  here  is  flushed 
with  the  rosiest  tints.  Rumour  some  time  ago  assigned  the 
future  mastership  of  this  fine  pack  to  a  popular  heavy-weight, 
whose  lines  are  cast  in  a  northern  province,  but  I  don't  know 
if  there  were  any  foundation  for  the  on  dit. 

Was  it  not  Byron  who  talked  about  the  feebleness  of  words 
to  express  the  might,  the  majesty  of  loveliness?  If  he  found 
it  hard,  how  impossible  to  the  polloi I  Those  who  would  see 
a  hunting  field  in  its  might  and  majesty,  faithfully  limned,  let 
them  look  at  Osborne's  picture  of  the  Ward  Union  Hunt.  I 
never  saw  anything  more  life-like  than  many  of  the  figures  which 
it  contains,  more  perfection  of  truth  in  the  various  attitudes. 
Some  may  think  that  one  or  two  of  the  leading  men  should 
have  been  more  en  evidence;  but  that  is  entirely  a  matter  of  taste 
and  arrangement,  and  perhaps  not  wholly  within  the  painter's 
province.  As  a  work  of  art,  and  a  faithful  study  of  a  popular 
subject,  the  picture  will  be  sure  to  please  generally. 

The  Gal  way  hounds  met  on  the  3ist  ult.,  at  Monivea  Castle, 
which  is  the  usual  scene  for  the  opening  day,  partly,  I  fancy, 
out  of  compliment  to  Mr.  R.  French,  its  proprietor,  who  has 
ever  been  one  of  the  staunchest  of  Mr.  Burton  Persse's  sup- 
porters in  good  times  as  in  evil  days,  and  partly  because  the 
picturesque  old  mansion,  with  its  fine  surrounding  woodlands, 
always  full  of  foxes,  is  a  pleasant  and  fairly  central  rendezvous 
for  the  large  field  generally  assembled  at  such  an  important  crisis 
in  the  Galway  annuary.  Much  rattling  of  these  woods  was 
followed  by  a  capital  thirty-eight  minutes,  with  only  two  checks, 
as  my  informant  told  me.  The  hounds  were  reported  to  me 
as  in  the  most  blooming  condition;  and  indeed  it  would  be  a 
phenomenon  to  find  them  otherwise,  as  they  are  kennelled  at 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  45 

Moyode    Castle,    and    under   Mr.    Persse's    eye    of   unceasing 
vigilance. 

Returning  to  Kildare  and  its  pack.  On  Thursday  they  had 
rather  an  uneventful  day,  though  the  show  of  foxes  was  decidedly 
good.  One  they  sent  to  ground  from  Sheriffs'  Hill,  after  a 
short  half  circle,  and  another  from  Tinoran  Hill  gave  them  a 
circuitous  chase,  of  which  ten  minutes  only  were  good. 

On  Saturday,  the  4th  inst,  they  met  in  the  historic  town  of 
Maynooth,  whose  secular  arid  ecclesiastical  story  finds  abundant- 
testimony  and  confirmation  in  the  ivy-mantled  ruins,  which,  pre- 
served with  reverend  care,  link  past  and  present  better  than  do 
most  villages  of  the  same  kind  in  Ireland.  Time  and  space 
warn  us  to  turn  a  deaf  ear  to  the  sermons  in  stones,  which  the 
grand  old  Geraldine  keep  would  inspire.  The  meet  was  a  very 
large  one,  for  the  railway  authorities  had  issued  a  special  train 
for  the  occasion,  and  half  Dublin  garrison — its  hunting  half,  at 
least — was  in  the  field  to-day,  the  Inniskillings,  I  think,  pre- 
ponderating. His  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught  was 
a  guest  of  his  grace  of  Leinster,  at  Carton ;  so  it  seemed  to  have 
been  a  foregone  conclusion  that  he  would  attend  the  meet,  and 
so  indeed  he  did.  Ponder  this  fact,  Whalley,  Newdegate,  and 
Co.,  to  whom  Maynooth  is  as  the  irritating  red  cloth  of  the 
"  chulos  "  to  the  bull  of  Andalusia.  This  fact,  and  a  gloriously 
warm  day,  swelled  the  congregation  to  almost  abnormal  limits; 
Dublin,  Meath,  and  Kildare  sending  their  beauty  and  chivalry 
to  the  assembly.  A  beautiful  sight  it  was  as  the  cavalcade 
wound  its  way  along  the  new  avenue  towards  Carton,  the  bright 
sun  lighting  up  the  mass  of  vividly  red  coats  (every  second  pink 
seemed  brand  new),  and  adding  new  lustre  to  Propert's  and 
Hoby's  handiwork.  Lord  Maurice  Fitzgerald  and  his  sisters 
represented  their  ducal  house;  the  Marquis  and  ^Marchioness 
of  Ormonde  had  come  from  their  proud  castle  on  the  banks 
of  the  Nore;  Lady  Powerscourt  had  come  from  her  Wicklow 
home  with  Lady  Chesham  and  the  Hon.  Miss  Cavendish;  the 


46  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Hon.  Mrs.  Barton's  most  perfect  grey  charger  was  there,  and 
so  were  Mrs.  Davis's  black  hunter  and  Mrs.  Adare's  bay  cob, 
that  I  saw  performing  admirably  over  a  large  country  by-and-by. 

But  the  big  pack  are  working  through  Moygaddy  Wood,  when 
a  young  hound  or  two  makes  a  stampede  to  a  false  start. 
Cullen's  gorse  is  next  visited.  Here  the  find  was  instantaneous, 
the  fox  slipping  off  just  as  the  hounds  entered  his  territory. 
Ardrass  seems  his  point,  but  no  doubt  the  thronged  roads 
before  him  made  him  very  careful  and  dubious  about  his  route. 
The  second  fence  is  a  nasty  thick  fir  tree,  stuck  high  in  a  gap 
and  surrounded  by  bushes.  Over  this  Lord  Langford  shows 
us  the  way  on  his  Solon  horse ;  but  few  follow  his  example, 
preferring  a  fence  lower  down.  After  crossing  a  bye  road,  the 
line  led  on  towards  Castletown,  but  the  fox  had  been  headed, 
I  fancy,  several  times  and  forced  to  twist  about,  so  we  left  him, 
after  some  casting  around.  I  heard  he  succeeded  in  making 
Killadoon  stronghold.  Lara  and  Taghadoe,  next  visited,  held 
nothing,  so  on  we  trotted  to  Courtown,  where  Captain  and  Mrs. 
Davis  were  dispensing  hospitalities  to  a  large  number,  while  a 
few,  sticking  to  the  pack  rather  than  the  flesh-pots,  saw  them  find 
a  fox  in  the  woods  opposite  the  house,  and,  after  some  bustling, 
force  him  across  a  road  into  a  fine  area  of  grass  land  in  the  direction 
of  Straffan.  A  large  section  of  the  field  were  on  the  road,  so  their 
start  was  admirable.  Those  who  had  to  find  their  way  through  the 
skirting  plantation  and  over  a  brace  of  fences  lost  some  minutes, 
and  theirs  was  consequently  a  stern  chase  and  a  very  fast  gallop. 
Here  we  tail  men  find  ourselves  in  a  field  or  two  charging  a 
wide  and  very  blind  ditch ;  a  herd  of  bullocks  takes  possession 
of  the  spot ;  a  heavy  welter  chooses  a  less  desirable  spot  higher 
up,  and  comes  down,  so  does  a  follower.  But  the  chase  is 
speeding  onwards  very  fast — grass  to  gallop  over  and  big  fences 
to  gallop  across  or  fall  into ;  a  big  canal-like  drain  partially 
interrupts  this  pleasant  progress,  and  as  we  near  the  little  wood 
of  Taghadoe,  scent  begins  to  chill  manifestly.  His  Royal  High- 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  47 

ness  was  admirably  carried,  and  so  was  his  equerry,  Captain 
Fitzgerald,  in  spite  of  a  fall.  Their  brother  rifleman,  too,  Lord 
Clanmorris,  was  charmingly  carried  for  a  while  on  a  son  of 
Thomastown,  a  half  or  whole  brother  of  Abdallah's.  The  fox 
was  finally  marked  to  ground  at  Taghadoe,  when,  I  think,  most 
pursuers  turned  homewards. 

On  the  same  warm,  still,  beautiful  Saturday,  scent  was  most 
propitious  to  the  Bellinter  harriers,  who  turned  up  a  brace  of 
hares  in  the  open,  after  a  couple  of  most  animated  pursuits — • 
thirty  and  thirty-five  minutes  respectively.  The  Ward  Union 
hounds,  too,  had  a  very  fast  thing  from  the  enlarging  point, 
not  far  from  the  eighth  milestone  on  the  northern  road,  by 
Fleenstown,  Kilrue,  and  past  Dunboyne;  one  horse,  I  hear, 
was  killed.  On  the  following  Monday  they  were  equally  fortunate 
with  a  fallow  deer,  who  ran  over  a  most  charming  line,  by 
Vesington  to  Moyglare — a  very  fast  forty-five  minutes.  The 
first  quarry,  a  red  one,  ran  very  disappointingly  short. 

Harking  back  to  Meath,  I  have  just  learnt  that  Mr.  Brown, 
of  Elm  Grove,  not  only  fed  the  hungry  on  that  miserable  Friday 
— can  there  be  an  oyster  bank  so  far  inland? — but  provided 
the  material  for  another  good  hunting  run,  which  was  inter- 
rupted near  Kildalkey  village  by  darkness.  On  Saturday  they 
were  at  Loughcrew,  where  Mr.  Naper  manages  to  keep  a  very 
fine  head  of  game  for  his  friends,  and  for  his  foxes  too.  The 
latter  abounded,  but  no  scent  wherewithal  to  drive  them.  From 
Drumlerry  Gorse  they  had  a  series  of  good  hunting  rings  till 
light  waned.  On  Monday  they  had  a  lawn  meet  at  Bellinter, 
a  lovely  scene  and  well  attended,  Lord  Suffield  being  among 
the  visitors.  I  can  only  speak  of  the  forenoon,  when  a  sharp 
old  fox  slipped  the  field  by  crossing  the  turbid  Boyne  and 
gaining  the  shelter  of  Bective,  when  Goodall  stopped  the  pack, 
as  the  riders,  hard,  soft,  and  middling,  had  not  come  up  yet. 
A  second  fox,  found  in  the  Home  Woods,  was,  I  think,  fast 
being  run  into  as  I  cantered  off,  hoping  to  catch  the  Ward 


48  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Union  hounds  on  my  route  homewards,  but   losing  their  good 
gallop  by  a  few  minutes. 

In  Western  Meath  Mr.  Montague  Chapman  had,  on  the  3rd, 
a  very  fast  gallop  from  Killynon,  by  Dysart,  to  ground  at  Moore- 
town,  and  a  good  hunting  run  from  Clonlost  to  Reynella,  when 
darkness  stopped  proceedings  ;  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Malone's  chestnut 
going  in  the  old  form.  In  Louth,  on  the  3ist,  Mr.  Filgate 
sent  a  fox  from  Charleville  to  Drumcar,  on  a  good  line,  in  twenty 
minutes.  A  new  fox  took  them  on  to  the  woods  of  Barmeath ; 
i  hr.  20  min.  in  all.  A  third  fox  came  on  the  same  line,  and 
occupied  them  for  another  hour,  when  he  was  given  up,  as  scent 
in  covert  was  utterly  wanting,  and  the  day  wound  up  by  drawing 
all  the  good  coverts  round  Rokeby  Hall  blank. 

On  the  3rd,  finding  at  Hilltown,  they  ran  their  fox  for  ten 
minutes,  and  killed ;  their  second,  after  a  long  ring,  was  forced 
over  Bellewstown  racecourse  to  the  Carnes,  where  the  earths 
had  been  opened  up,  and  no  one,  like  Oliver  Twist,  "  asked  for 
more." 

I  hear  very  good  accounts  of  the  sport  the  "  Queen's  Bays  " 
harriers  are  showing.  On  Thursday  last  they  met  on  the  lands 
of  Mr.  Fennell,  of  hospitable  fame,  and  had  a  capital  straight 
gallop  by  Tubbrick  and  Ballybrophy,  killing  their  hare,  and  a 
second  from  Garryroan  to  Kilrue  Wood. 

Au  reste,  Mr.  Hamilton  Stubber,  in  the  Queen's  County,  was 
very  successful  on  his  opening  day,  the  3oth  ult.,  so  far  as 
regards  the  show  of  foxes ;  and  so  was  Colonel  Chaplin  in 
Kilkenny,  whos.e  pack  running  hard  up  to  Kilcreen,  was  stopped 
only  by  the  severe  illness  of  Mr.  Smithwick,  a  staunch  supporter 
in  his  day  (for,  alas  !  it  is,  I  hear,  over)  of  fox-hunting.  Lord 
Huntingdon  has  had  two  or  three  very  good  things,  I  hear, 
of  late,  notably  a  capital  forty  minutes  from  Limerick  Hill ; 
while  the  Kildare  hounds  had  some  ringing  from  Dunmurry  on 
the  6th  inst. 


THE     MARCHIONESS     OF    ORMONDE 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  49 


V. 

1  And  so  but  half  a  score  did  see 
As  good  a  run  as  well  could  be. " 


Stag-hunting  in  excehis ! — Bective  House  and  its  Host  and  Hosts — Curragh- 
more  Sport — Summerhill  and  its  Snows — Scurry  from  Ballycaghan — 
Victims. 

WHAT  a  blessed  consummation  it  would  be  if  grooms  could  be 
taught  to  "  throw  physic  to  the  dogs,"  and  not  ram  it  down 
hunters'  throats !  These  ideas  have  been  suggested  by  the  un- 
timely fate  of  a  friend's  hunter,  whose  "  stud "  (groom)  fancied 
nothing  was  so  good  for  hunters  as  the  old  three-course  system  : 
three  balls,  an  alterative,  and  diruetic — gallops,  sweats,  etc.,  to 
follow.  He  had  probably  a  stock  of  old  aloes  balls  by  him, 
which  perhaps  never  were  made  up  of  pure  drugs ;  one  of  these 
proved  fatal,  bringing  on  internal  inflammation.  We  have  wisely 
banished  lancets  and  fleams  from  our  saddle-room  cupboards 
(though  they  too  have  their  uses  occasionally,  but  very  rarely) ; 
it  were  well  if  masters  could  eliminate  the  indiscriminate  use  or 
abuse  of  aloes,  nitre,  resin,  antimony,  arsenic,  and  such  like 
abominations.  In  Jamaica,  in  the  slavery  days,  there  was  on 
every  large  estate  an  hospital,  known  as  the  "  Hot  House,"  for 
the  serfs  when  ill  or  maimed.  A  "white"  doctor  presided  or 
inspected;  but  "the  working  man"  was  generally  an  old  negro 
who  had  been  more  or  less  brought  up  to  the  therapeutic  art  as  a 


5o  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A, 

dispenser  or  hospital  orderly,  and  fancied  himself  not  a  little  in 
consequence.  "  Well,  Cudjoe,"  said  the  overseer  one  day,  going 
his  rounds  on  horseback,  "how  did  you  treat  Quashie  B.,  who 
was  sent  in  last  night  very  sick  ? "  "  Why,  massa,"  said  the 
nigger,  "I  just  gave  him  a  spuke  and  a  spurge  (an  emetic  and 
drastic)  and  ordered  his  coffin  ! "  Does  not  a  stable  parallel  occur 
to  not  a  few  horse  owners  in  their  experience  ? 

In  my  last  week's  notes  I  left  the  Meath  hounds  very  busy 
with  a  young  fox  in  the  home  woods  at  Bellinter.  How  he 
escaped,  I  know  not,  but  he  actually  did  manage,  I  hear,  to 
run  the  gauntlet  successfully  and  emerge  into  the  open,  and  lead 
his  pursuers  a  very  fair  burst  of  eight  or  ten  minutes  up  towards 
Tara  Hill,  where  he  got  to  ground.  Lismullen  and  Dowdstown 
produced  little  but  ringing  foxes  and  patient  hunting,  which  is 
never  lost  on  the  pack,  though  it  may  stir  the  bile  of  the  more 
ardent  and  impetuous  sportsmen  out. 

I  see  one  of  your  correspondents  in  England  emphasises  the 
fact  that,  while  good  men  and  true  are  occasionally  seen  joining 
in  the  pursuit  of  the  stag,  they  do  so  apologetically  as  it  were,  and 
under  protest.  Such  a  state  of  things  exists  not  in  Ireland — at 
any  rate,  in  the  province  of  Leinster — and,  while  the  legitimate 
sport  flourishes  amain,  the  illegitimate  or  semi-artificial  pursuit  can 
boast  its  votaries  and  constant  attendants  among  many  whom  it 
would  be  rank  heresy  to  call  anything  but  good  sportsmen, 
passed  masters  in  all  the  canons  and  cabala  of  woodcraft  and 
venerie.  Indeed,  the  only  apology  heard  is  that  horses  and  men 
are  not  equal  to  the  task  of  following  the  muckle  beast  in  his 
rapid  excursions  over  peerless  lines  of  strongly  divided  pastures, 
for  rarely  do  the  deer  of  Ashbourne  affect  the  roads  for  any 
length  of  time ;  and  as  for  the  hyper-sensitiveness  which  affects 
extreme  disgust  at  the  common  finale  of  a  deer-hunt,  depend  on't, 
these  critics  are  but  rarely  placed,  save  by  accident,  in  such  a 
painful  position  as  to  be  riding  for  a  mile  or  two  alongside  of  a 
thoroughly  beaten  stag  or  hind,  with  the  clamorous  pack  all 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  51 

round  it,  snatching  and  snapping  away  at  their  quarry.  To  say 
that  there  is  none  of  the  excitement  of  finding  your  game,  with  all 
the  accessories  of  gorse  or  woodland — that  you  are  robbed  of 
the  tumultuous  throbbing  when  you  see  a  fine  fox  stealing  away 
over  a  magnificent  line,  and  the  chequered  pursuit  that  succeeds 
— that  science  and  quasi  divination  are  not  called  into  play — and 
that  finally  fox-hounds  carrying  a  good  head  get  over  the  ground 
faster  than  most  stag  packs — is  simply  stating  well-known  facts, 
and  pointing  out  the  differentia  of  fox-hunting.  On  the  other 
hand,  say  the  stag-hunters,  think  of  what  Milton  calls  the  "  sober 
certainty  of  waking  bliss,"  which  a  good  five  miles  in  the  Ward 
Union "  country  amounts  to  in  not  a  few  breasts,  and  weigh  it 
against  the  many  bad  days,  and  middling  days,  and  good  days 
over  unrideable  lines,  which  all  fox-hunters  experience  in  every 
season.  Think  of  the  planning  and  arrangements  necessary,  the 
distances  to  be  traversed,  the  railway  journeyings  at  a  pace  which 
a  fox-hound  on  a  good  scenting  day  would  spurn.  Think  of  your 
horses  out  of  your  stable,  not  from  morn  till  dewy  eve,  but  till 
hours  late  enough  for  a  fashionable  dinner  party.  Above  all, 
recollect,  you  who  run  amuck  at  stag-hunting  and  calf-hunters,  that 
Meynell  was  actually  master  of  the  Royal  Buck-hounds  from  1770 
to  1772. 

With  these  prefatory  remarks,  let  me  state  that  your  scribe 
formed  a  unit  in  a  group  of  some  forty  or  fifty  well-mounted  men 
from  Dublin  and  Bray,  the  Garrison,  Meath,  etc.,  as  they  trotted 
on  from  the  meeting-point  of  the  Ward  Union  hounds  at  Kilrew, 
on  Wednesday,  the  8th  inst.,  for  a  mile  or  so,  till  our  leader 
or  fugleman  jumped  a  small  fence  off  a  by-road,  and  in  a  minute 
more  we  could  see  the  gaily  coloured  pack  straining  away  and 
streaming  away  over  the  wide  pasture  fields  of  Mullinam,  like 
greyhounds  just  slipped.  The  day  was  raw  and  cold,  as  if  snow 
were  suspended  in  the  air,  but  the  scent  was  breast-high,  as  on 
that  famous  day  which  made  Billesdon  Coplow  a  household  word 
on  hunting  lips.  A  biggish  brook  and  bank  intervene,  but  stops 


52  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

nobody  apparently,  and  so  we  gallop  on  pleasantly  till  we  reach 
the  Ratoath  road,  which  is  a  very  bad  exchange  for  the  springy 
turf  we  have  been  stretching  over  just  now.     Half  a  mile,  however, 
sees  us  jumping  a  bank  into  a  wavy  sort  of  field  under  the  old 
Fairy  House  cottage,  and  following  the  gyrations  of  our  red  deer 
in  the  direction  of  Porterstown.     Brooks  or  rhenes  now  intervene 
occasionally,  and  plump  into  one  of  them  goes  one  of  Heath's 
best-mounted  and  heaviest  weights;  but  there  are  friendly  arms 
on  the  bank,  so  man  and  horse  emerge  all  right.     The  line  now 
assumes  the  shape  of  the  letter  S  doubled,  as  our  deer  races  past 
the  Ballymore  garden  wall — some  three  or  four  red-coats  well  in 
the  van  of  pursuit  (black  preponderate  in  this  hunt  in  the  pro- 
portion of  ten  to  one);  a  great  number  now  availing  themselves 
of  a  friendly  lane  leading  into  Ratoath.     Here,  some  thought,  the 
fun  was  over ;   it  was  really  only  beginning,  though  up  to  this 
point  much  country  had  been  traversed,  and  very  fast.     Lara,  who 
had  been  running  in  view  for  more  than  a  mile,  now  caught  his 
second  wind,  and,  sweeping  by  the  Fair  Green,  led  the  pack  a 
third  figure  of  the  letter  S,  passing  Lagore,  Culm  Hill,  and  Reesk, 
and  then  bending  to  the  well-known  Sutherland  brook,  strided 
over  it  and  another  less   famous   "  water  privilege,"  making  his 
way  to  Killegland,  and  then,  presently  brushing  past  (though  not 
near)  the  deer-park  of  Ashbourne,  held  on  through  Donnymore 
and  Greenogue  to  New  Barn,  where  he  had  taken  refuge  in  an 
out-building.     Among  the  few  up  at  the  finish  were   Messrs. 
Trotter,    Morrogh,   W.    Butler,    Kearney,    M'Cullagh,    with    the 
Brindleys.      The  run,  a  magnificent  one,  is  variously  timed  as 
one  hour  twenty-five  minutes  and  one  hour  twenty-eight  minutes. 
Few  better  things,  if  any,  have  been  ridden  this  season  anywhere. 
In  Louth  Mr.  Filgate  had  a  capital  day  on  the  6th,  though  the 
beginning  was  of  evil  augury — a  fox  chopped  in  a  small  gorse 
with  a  trap  on  his  leg.     The  second  draw  was  Footstown,  whence 
a  fox  took  them  into  Meath  by  Rathbrane  over  a  fine  line,  eventu- 
ally getting  to  ground  near  Carrickmagow ;  twenty-seven  minutes, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  53 

done  at  a  good  pace.  Drakestown  produced  only  a  ringer,  who 
was  not  persevered  with ;  but  Skedog,  which  was  one  of  their  best 
starting-points  last  year,  proved  a  better  chance,  as  a  fox  broke 
from  it  at  once,  skirting  Shanliss,  Harlestone,  and  Newtown 
Chapel,  crossing  Cranagh  and  gaining  the  covert  at  Mooretown, 
and  thence  on  to  Taaffe's  Gorse,  whence  he  was  pushed  out  dead 
beat,  and  presently  rolled  over.  Time,  forty  minutes,  of  which 
thirty  was  done  at  great  pace,  unrelieved  by  a  single  check,  as  the 
string  of  beaten  horses  testified. 

The'Bellinter  harriers  met  a  sad  contretemps  on  Tuesday  last. 
As  they  were  running  a  hare  over  the  metals  in  the  Trim  country, 
a  train  swooped  down  on  them,  proving  fatal  to  three,  I  believe. 
They  had  a  capital  hour  and  a  quarter  after  the  accident,  and  were 
stopped  by  darkness. 

The  Kildare  hounds  met  on  the  following  Tuesday,  at  Kilcullen 
Bridge.  A  very  large  field  assembled  in  their  honour.  Kinnea 
Wood,  an  offshoot  of  Castle  Martin,  was  first  tried,  and  a  ringing 
fox  from  it  was  killed  on  the  edge  of  the  Curragh.  A  second  was 
turned  up  after  a  short  pursuit  from  the  Cemetery  Gorse,  while  a 
third  was  hunted  from  Martinstown  Gorse,  over  Carrick  Hill,  by 
Halverstown,  to  Colverstown,  where  he  got  to  ground ;  forty-five 
minutes  in  all,  with  a  few  good  bits  in  it. 

On  Wednesday  the  Meath  pack  were  at  Carlanstown.  They 
had  a  capital  thirty-eight  minutes  from  Farrenalcock,  and  hunted 
patiently  and  well  some  rather  ringing  foxes  from  Rathmano  and 
Shancarn,  till  darkness  interfered. 

On  Thursday,  the  gth  inst,  the  Meath  hounds  met  at  Bective 
House,  which  for  the  last  season  or  two  has  been  tenanted  by 
Lieut. -Col.  Fraser,  V.C.  There  is  not  a  great  deal  of  strong 
covert  in  the  plantations  and  screens  about,  but  it  is  so  well  pre- 
served, and  is  so  surrounded  by  foxes  in  the  adjacent  woodlands 
of  Bellinter,  Dowdstown,  and  Ardsallagh,  that  the  chances  of 
finding  a  fox  on  the  premises  are  more  than  even.  Those  who 
have  travelled  by  the  Meath  line  to  Navan  cannot  fail  to  re- 


54  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

collect  the  whitely  gleaming  house,  with  fringing  woodlands  and 
grounds  sloping  down  to  the  very  banks  of  the  Boyne,  which  they 
view  at  so  apparently  short  a  distance  from  the  metals.  This  is 
Bective,  and,  like  the  Liffey,  the  sinuous  Boyne  has  apparently 
tempted  a  large  number  of  the  landocracy  to  settle  on  its  banks 
and  make  parks  and  pleasaunces  for  themselves  and  their 
posterity.  I  should  have  used  the  past  tense,  for  I  suppose 
not  a  few  generations  have  lapsed  since  the  fine-girthed  timber 
and  extensive  woods  of  Bellinter  were  first  planted.  At  any 
rate,  for  some  two  or  three  miles  the  Boyne  water — which  here- 
abouts is  of  nearly  the  same  width  and  volume  as  the  Thames 
at  Nuneham  (though  weedy  and  foul  as  the  Cam  used  to  be) — 
is  beautifully  illustrated  by  gentlemen's  places  and  parks,  the  chief 
of  which  are  Bellinter,  Bective,  Ardsallagh,  Dowdstown,  and  Boyne 
Hill.  The  early  aspect  of  the  morning  was  cheerless  to  a  degree  ; 
white  rime  overspread  everything,  while  in  the  distant  east  the  hills 
were  glistening  with  newly  fallen  snow — that  is  to  say,  when  you 
could  get  a  glimpse  of  them  through  the  snow-dust  which  was 
falling  every  now  and  then  in  spray.  This  is  our  first  vision 
of  grim  winter  and  its  realities,  and  the  contrast  of  the  trees  still 
loaded  with  leaf  and  the  white  earth  was  curious  and  strange. 
By  eleven  a.m.  a  radiant  sun  had  dispelled  much  of  these  gloomy 
portents,  though  there  were  bits  of  the  road  in  the  shade  where 
the  ice  bade  defiance  to  the  thermal  influence. 

The  meet — a  new  one — was  evidently  most  popular,  for 
seldom  does  a  rendezvous  miles  from  town  or  village  present 
a  gayer  or  more  animated  aspect  than  did  Bective  House  and  its 
lawn  in  the  forenoon,  and  the  ladies  ulstered  and  sabled,  and 
the  ladies  in  habits,  did  it  special  honour.  I  cannot  now  stop  to 
dwell  on  the  smartness  of  not  a  few  of  the  equipages,  the  neatness 
of  the  ladies'  horses,  or  the  array  of  horsemen  and  second  horse- 
men (the  latter  in  unusual  numbers)  who  figured  on  the  scene. 
Let  me  turn  to  the  hounds.  In  Bective  they  owned  a  fox,  who 
had  apparently  chosen  a  very  good  line  of  open  country  for  his 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  55 

excursion;  but  probably  these  landaus  and  waggonettes  and  stylish 
pairs  of  horses  had  awakened  him  to  his  danger,  and  given  him 
ten  minutes'  or  a  quarter  of  an  hour's  start.  At  any  rate,  Goodall 
did  not  persevere  with  him,  so  we  went  on  to  one  of  Mr.  French's 
plantations  at  Ardsallagh,  whence  three  foxes  emerged  in  a  clus- 
ter. The  hounds  settled  to  one,  and  him  we  escorted  or  followed 
into  Bective  over  the  railway — for  hunt  him  we  certainly  did  not, 
scent  being  of  the  lowest  order.  Another  Ardsallagh  fox  took  an 
opposite  direction  by  the  river,  but  we  could  not  do  anything  with 
him  either.  From  this  point  the  hounds  were  trotted  on  to 
Churchtown,  whence  a  grand  old  fox  broke  handsomely,  and  led 
his  enemies  over  as  fine  a  line  of  country  as  need  be  desired;  but 
scent  had  not  quickened  in  the  afternoon,  and  the  pace  was  not 
rapid  by  any  means.  His  course  lay  by  Philpotstown,  Tulgard, 
Mr.  Jones's  farm,  and  so  on  to  Meadstown,  where,  it  is  said,  foxes 
were  changed;  be  that  as  it  may,  a  hunted  one,  if  not  the  hunted 
one,  was  put  to  ground  very  soon  after.  Those  who  had  long 
distances  to  ride  home  were  pelted  at  intervals  by  snow,  sleet, 
and  rain — principally  the  latter,  I  think.  To  show  how  general 
good  scent  is  on  certain  days,  I  may  mention  that  on  the  red- 
letter  Wednesday  (last)  of  the  Ward  Union  hounds,  the  Allenstown 
harriers — Mr.  Purdon's — had  an  extraordinary  run  after  an  out- 
lying fox;  scent  most  serving.  I  think  I  noticed  in  my  last  the 
opening  day  of  the  Kilkenny  hounds;  their  second  (Nov.  i)  far 
eclipsed  it.  Ballyhale  was  the  meeting  point,  which  is  fairly 
handy  for  the  Curraghmore  hunt,  and  as  a  natural  consequence 
the  Marquis  of  Waterford  and  party  were  at  the  trysting-place,  or 
rather  at  Killeen,  the  first  draw.  From  it  broke  an  old  fox,  who 
made  apparently  for  Carricktriss,  but  was  headed  at  the  cross 
roads  of  Lismatige,  and  turned  to  the  right  over  the  Waterford 
and  Kilkenny  railway,  whose  gates  being  fastened,  the  hounds 
gained  considerably.  Onward  the  line  led  past  Castlegannon, 
through  Crowbally,  then  southwards  as  if  for  Knockbrack,  but, 
after  crossing  a  hill  or  two  and  some  heavy  bottom  lands,  the  fox 


5 6  HIBERNIA    VENAT1CA. 

gained  the  open  earths  at  Tory  Hill.  One  hour  at  good  pace  had 
told  its  tale  on  horses;  so,  when  the  question  was  put  by  Colonel 
Chaplin  as  to  a  second  draw,  no  one  held  up  his  hand.  From 
Windgap  Gorse  on  the  8th,  this  pack  had  a  capital  ring,  which  the 
Marquises  of  Waterford  and  Ormonde,  Lord  A.  Butler,  Sir  J. 
Langrishe,  Colonel  Chaplin,  Messrs.  Briscoe,  Lalor,  and  others  saw 
well.  The  hounds,  I  hear,  reflect  the  greatest  credit  on  John 
Tidd,  their  huntsman,  both  for  handiness  and  condition.  In 
Limerick,  Sir  David  Roche  had  a  capital  hounds'  day  on  his  open- 
ing assembly.  On  the  yth  his  hard-riding  field  had  their  innings 
in  a  thirty  minutes'  scurry  at  express  pace  from  Lisduan,  the 
bitches  sending  their  fox  to  ground,  and  their  field  homewards  so 
satisfied  that  the  master  was  not  asked  for  another  draw. 

Lord  Doneraile's  hounds  have  been  doing  good  work  both  in 
woodland  and  open  so  far,  and  of  cubs  and  foxes  they  have  scored 
eight  brace. 

A  testimonial  is  being  got  up  for  Mr.  Henry  Briscoe,  the  late 
master  of  the  Kilkenny  hounds — of  the  Curraghmore  pack  before 
that.  Few  have  done  more  for  fox-hunting  than  Mr.  Briscoe. 
Perhaps  it  may  be  to  his  tact,  savoir  faire,  and  genial  nature  that 
Kilkenny  owes  her  present  status  in  the  hunting  world — the 
entente  cordiale  among  her  pursuers  of  all  classes  and  professions. 
Duke,  the  very  popular  Curraghmore  huntsman,  served  his  appren- 
ticeship with  Mr.  Briscoe,  and  his  lessons  were  not  thrown  away. 
John  Tidd  also  learnt  woodcraft  under  the  same  master,  and 
learnt  it  well. 

The  question  is  often  asked,  "Where  can  I  find  stabling  for 
ten  or  a  dozen  hunters  out  of  Dublin?"  If  the  metropolitan  or 
home  circuit  be  your  aim  (and  this  will  include  much  of  Meath, 
Kildare,  and  the  entire  Ward  Union  country),  Dunboyne,  Ratoath, 
and  Dunshaughlin  offer  great  facilities  to  the  hunting  man.  In 
the  latter  village  Mr.  S.  Kelly  has  just  put  up  ten  boxes,  and  I 
hear  on  good  authority  that  the  confiding  stranger  will  not  suffer 
in  Mr.  Kelly's  hands,  and  that  horses  will  be  thoroughly  well 
done  at  no  exorbitant  tariff. 


HI  BERN  I  A    VENA  TIC  A.  57 

There  is  a  rumour  afloat  that  Mr.  Edmund  Mansfield  intends 
at  the  close  of  the  season  to  resign  the  mastership  of  the  Kildare 
hounds,  which  in  his  hands  has  proved  an  unequivocal  success. 
It  is  to  be  hoped  that  it  is  merely  a  rumour  resting  on  no  solid 
foundation. 

November  loth  introduced  us  to  as  wintry  a  prospect  as  even 
that  debatable  land,  the  Herzegovina,  could  furnish.  The  wind 
was  easterly  and  cuttingly  cold,  and,  as  one  looked  in  that  direc- 
tion, lo !  the  eastern  rampart  of  our  island  rose  one  huge  white 
barrier,  unbroken  by  a  single  bit  of  dark  or  lively  colouring.  A 
white  rime  overspread  the  fields,  but  that,  of  course,  we  had  hopes 
of  seeing  disappear  in  an  hour  or  two;  but  there  was  no  disguising 
the  fact  that  every  sign  and  token  admonished  us  that  it  was 
freezing  very  hard  at  ten  o'clock  a.m.  How  it  fared  with  other 
pursuers  I  cannot  tell;  but  my  ten  miles  to  the  meet  was  over  a 
road  which  presented  the  appearance  of  a  newly  made  rink — the 
snow  and  rain  which  had  fallen  during  the  night  having  been 
frozen  to  a  solid  consistency.  It  was,  however,  very  thin,  and  in  a 
short  time — barring  a  mauvais  pas  or  two — horses  got  accustomed 
to  it,  and  crunched  through  the  mass  as  if  used  to  that  sort  of 
going  half  their  lives.  Summerhill,  the  meeting-point  of  the  Meath 
hounds,  reached  by  a  side  gate  in  the  park  wall,  the  question  was, 
Where  are  the  hounds  ?  for  it  was  past  eleven  o'clock,  and  the 
rustics  I  had  interrogated  seemed  to  think  they  had  not  come  at 
all — a  conclusion  I  was  inclined  to  draw  myself  as  I  cantered  up 
one  of  the  knolls  in  the  park  to  gain  a  view,  and  found  my  horse 
throwing  the  balled  snow  out  of  his  hoofs.  A  minute  more 
resolved  all  doubt,  for  there  in  front  of  the  court-yard  were  the 
hounds  and  staff,  while  a  tide  of  mounted  men  were  passing  to 
and  from  the  fine  Italian  entrance  hall  in  quest  no  doubt  of  those 
cups  of  comfort  which  the  herbalists  of  Fecamp  and  La  Trappe 
and  our  cousins  of  Amsterdam  have  so  cunningly  compounded 
for  our  delectation.  To  be  or  not  to  be,  was  the  burning  question 
of  the  chilly  hour.  There  was  no  disputing  the  substantial  fact 


58  HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI  C A. 

of  the  snow  everywhere,  for  our  horses  were  all  apparently  on 
castors,  raised  a  hand  or  two  beyond  their  normal  standard ;  but 
then  travellers  told  us  of  pleasant  green  fields  near  Athboy,  Trim, 
Kilcock,  or  some  of  those  lower  latitudes,  and  there  seemed  a 
general  unanimity  of  opinion  as  to  Summerhill  being  the  frostiest 
and  snowiest  place  in  Meath.  Unlike  "  Sweet  Auburn  " — 

"  Here  Mr.  Frost  his  earliest  visit  paid, 
And  parting  snow-wreaths  lovingly  delay'd ; 
Dear  lovely  bowers  of  innocence  and  ease, 
Seats  of  my  youth  when  every  sport  could  please." 

Very  true,  no  doubt,  if  the  sport  were  snowballing,  or  even  gun- 
ning, for  the  extensive  coverts  look  like  abounding  in  pheasants 
and  woodcock.  But  hunting — no  !  The  dial  hands  in  the  court-yard 
clock  had  nearly  met  at  noon  when  Mr.  Waller  resolved  our 
doubts.  Foxes  are  very  soon  routed  out  in  the  home  woods — 
three,  I  think,  starting  off  together.  One  went  off  on  a  good  line 
out  of  the  park,  but  was  headed  back,  to  the  grief  of  its  noble 
owner,  in  a  quarter  of  an  hour.  Another  is  hustled  out  rather 
higher  up,  past  Spring  Valley,  over  the  road,  and  on  apparently 
for  Garradice  covert ;  hounds  are  running ;  the  banks  don't  look 
pleasant  or  inviting  to  man  or  horse,  but  men  press  on  and  horses 
jump — and  fall  too,  as  a  hard  man  from  the  Pytchley  and  Quorn 
packs  soon  found.  Just  as  the  run  was  warming  into  something 
pleasant,  our  fox,  headed  on  his  way,  turned  sharp  into  Summer- 
hill,  and  there,  after  some  hunting,  we  left  him. 

We  can  now  take  a  look  at  our  surroundings.  The  field  is  an 
unusually  large  one — more  carriages  than  such  weather  would 
warrant  our  finding  along  the  drives ;  sportsmen  from  Westmeath, 
Galway,  Kildare,  and  Dublin  appear  on  the  scene.  The  cause  is 
not  far  to  seek ;  it  is  his  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught's 
first  visit  to  the  pack  of  Royal  Meath ;  and  Royal  Meath,  if  just  a 
little  turbulent  and  self-willed  in  a  few  minor  points,  principally 
pertaining  to  the  "  dirty  acres,"  is  loyal  to  the  core,  and  curiosity 
and  loyalty  combined  have  tempted  out  all  those  "  villagers  gay  " 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  59 

who  are  making  holiday  of  it,  to  the  confusion,  perhaps,  of  an 
early  fox  or  two.  We  are  now  trotting  on  eastward  for  a  couple 
of  miles  or  so — our  point  Pratt's  Gorse,  which,  cut  down  not  very 
long  ago,  seems  in  famous  holding  order.  It  is  a  square  of  gorse, 
without  tree  or  shrub,  and  near  nothing  but  a  solitary  cabin.  In 
a  minute  or  two  there  is  a  whimper  and  a  rustle,  a  false  start  or 
two ;  after  that  it  is  "  gone  away  ! "  in  earnest,  and  at  express  pace. 
The  second  fence  is  a  rather  large  ditch  and  bank,  which  I  see 
Lords  Howth  and  Clanmorris  flying  in  good  style  near  each 
other.  Presently  the  line  bends  towards  the  trees  of  Larch  Hill, 
and  by  a. lane  there  is  a  check  of  a  few  minutes.  On  again  it  takes 
us,  now  over  the  boundary  fence  of  Larch  Hill,  and  presently,  at 
a  sort  of  up-bank  by  the  lake  opposite  the  house,  I  see  one  of  the 
best  performers  (horses)  in  Meath  spread-eagled  and  sprawling. 
On  past  the  house,  across  the  Kilcock  road,  where  I  see  a  sports- 
man, who  had  been  riding  a  rather  hard  puller  in  a  Newmarket 
noseband,  get  an  ugly-looking  fall.  Next,  over  some  large  green 
fields  and  wide  open  fences,  in  one  of  which  a  handsome  bay 
mare,  daughter  of  Roman  Bee,  that  the  Duke  of  Connaught  was 
riding,  dropped  her  hind  legs  (the  place  was  very  blind)  and  gave 
him  a  fall,  and  a  good  skirmishing  run  of  a  quarter  of  a  mile  or  so 
on  foot.  But  here  we  are  at  our  starting  point,  Pratt's  Gorse, 
and  once  more  we  are  in  pursuit,  the  line  taking  us  towards  Sum- 
merhill,  but  at  very  different  pace — a  promenade  in  fact.  From 
Moneymore  in  the  evening  they  had  a  racing  twenty-five  minutes 
to  the  edge  of  the  Dalyston  Bog,  when  it  grew  dark,  and  hounds 
were  stopped.  Mr.  Trotter  got  a  lead  at  a  nasty  drop  fence 
(where  Goodall  was  hung  up),  and  never  was  caught.  Among  the 
horses  that  were  fencing  beautifully  were  those  of  three  ladies, 
belonging  respectively  to  Westmeath,  East  Meath,  and  Kildare. 
Captain  Sawle's  grey  and  Mr.  Macneil's  chestnut  were  carrying  their 
owners  admirably,  and  so  was  the  Hon.  Charles  Bourke's  chestnut 
mare  My  Lady,  by  The  Marquis.  Colonel  Fraser  got  a  nasty  fall  in 
the  middle  of  a  field  from  his  horse  pecking  at  a  blind  drain,  and, 


60  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

I  regret  to  say,  broke  his  collar  bone.  Col.  Fraser  lost  a  great 
part  of  last  season's  hunting  from  a  broken  arm — an  accident  in 
the  field  also. 

I  hear  Mr.  Hamilton  Stubber  had  a  good  forty  minutes  and  a 
kill  from  DeverilPs  Hill  the  day  his  pack  met  at  Maryboro' 
Heath;  and  Mr.  Filgate's  splendid  gallop  from  Flatten,  right 
through  the  cream  of  Meath,  on  Wednesday  last,  is  a  fertile 
theme  for  conversation  in  northern  and  eastern  hunting  circles. 
Of  this  more  anon,  I  hope.  From  the  Duhallow  country  I  hear 
that  every  day  has  produced  sport  so  far,  with  one  single 
exception. 

On  Saturday,  the  nth,  the  Kildare  hounds — who,  by-the-by, 
had  a  very  good  forty-five  minutes  from  the  Moat  of  Ardskull  by 
Mullagh  Mast  on  Thursday  last,  and  found  foxes  abounding  in 
Nine-Tree  Hill — visited  the  edge  of  their  best  country,  where 
Meath,  Westmeath,  and  Kildare  almost  join  boundaries.  The 
meet  was  at  the  town  or  village  of  Enfield,  a  station  on  the 
Midland  Great  Western  line;  consequently  every  facility  pre- 
sented itself  to  pursuers,  from  remote  Galway  and  comparatively 
neighbouring  Dublin,  with  all  the  intermediate  places  thrown  in, 
to  attend  the  assembly.  There  were  some  strangers,  and,  if  I 
mistake  not,  a  few  hard-riding  men  from  the  neighbourhood  of 
Edenderry,  who  take  their  hunting  pleasure  mainly  with  Captain 
Dames's  and  Mr.  Palmer's  'harriers;  but  the  congregation  was 
not  anything  like  so  large  as  might  have  been  anticipated. 
Ryndville,  the  first  draw,  always  holds  a  fox  or  foxes,  but  it  is 
honeycombed  with  burrows,  and  a  good  run  over  a  promising 
line  ended  in  a  coney  hole.  Cappagh  Gorse,  the  scene  of  the 
wire  catastrophe  last  season,  was  next  drawn,  and  from  it  a  fox 
broke  in  the  direction  of  Agher ;  then,  bending  to  the  right  in 
a  line  somewhat  parallel  to  the  Midland  track,  he  won  his  way  to 
Ballycaghan  Gorse,  and  when  pushed  out  of  it  beat  the  hounds 
out  of  scent.  It  was  a  very  fast  scurry,  and  Major  the  Hon. 
E.  Lawless,  Captain  Sawle,  and  Mr.  F.  Rynd  were  about  the 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  61 

quickest  in  making  the  best  of  a  good  start.      Grief  was  very 
visible  by  unmistakable  signs  and  tokens — scratched  faces,  dirty 
coats,  stoved-in  hats,  etc.     The  east  wind  was  now  blowing  half 
a  gale,  and  very  cutting  and  keen  withal.     The  hounds  had  been 
thrown  into  the  huge  forest-like  gorse,  and  the  field  assigned 
their  proper  boundaries.     Ten  minutes  pass  away,  and  no  sign. 
Ten  more,  and  no  music  greets  the  ear.      It  is  very  cold,  and 
we  are  getting  somewhat  lukewarm  in  our  hunting  zeal,  huddling 
up  into  nooks  of  shelter,  and  wondering  when  the  hounds  would 
be  taken  away  to  some  livelier  and  likelier  spot      Horns  were 
blown,  I  hear,  and  blown   lustily;    we   heard  them  not.      Who 
gave  the  impulse  I  know  not ;  but  presently  every  one  is  catching 
his  horse  by  the  head,  feeling  him  with  the  cold  steel,  and  fifty 
gees  are  in  a  minute  or  two  galloping  over  that  verdant  ocean 
where  the  eye  only  sees  a  single  cottage  on  an  eminence  for  a 
considerable  distance.      The  first  fence,  which  generally  engulfs 
one  or  two  at  least,  if  not  more,  is  crossed  safely  and  success- 
fully, I  think,  by  all  there.      For  a  mile  or  two  we  gallop  on 
wildly   to  Cappagh  Gorse,  our  companions  a  couple  or  two  of 
the  tail  hounds.     Here  we  find  the  pack  had  dwelt  for  a  short 
time,  but  sent  their  fox  quickly  out  of  its  shelter  by  Mr.  Keenan's 
house,  over  the  deep  bottoms,  past  the  Decoy  Woods,  on  past 
Knockanally  House,  and  so  downhill  into  Hortlands.     The  pace 
must  have   been  very  fine   indeed,  the   line  grass  all  the  way 
except  some  twenty  yards  or  so;  distance  I  should  guess  some 
five  miles  or  more ;  but  in  what  time  this  was  covered  I  cannot 
say.     Who  saw  it  ?    Well,  I  believe  only  three  saw  it  thoroughly 
— Lord  Suffield,  Mr.  W.  Forbes,  and  Will  Freeman ;  and  the  first 
named,  I  fancy,  pulled  off  just  before  the  hounds  ran  into  Hort- 
lands.     He  was  mounted  on  Colonel   Fraser's   chestnut  horse, 
Famous,  who  won  the  twelve-stone  Red-coat  Race  in  Meath  last 
year.     Mr.  Forbes  was  on  Gridiron,  a  handsome  son  of  Kildonan, 
and  as  good  as  he  looks  in  any  country,  be  it  wall  or  bank,  for 
some  of  his  education  was  in  Galway.     A  small  cut,  blind  from 


62  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

the  fringing  grass,  proved  fatal,  I  fear,  to  a  very  perfect  hunter 
of  Lord  Langford's,  a  son  of  Solon's,  and  grandson  of  West 
Australian's.  Mr.  Paley,  the  eminent  V.S.,  was  telegraphed  for 
to  Dublin ;  and  all  will  be  glad  if  this  very  accomplished  hunter, 
who  had  been  fencing  to  perfection  all  day,  can  be  brought 
round.  A  lady  got  an  unpleasant-looking  fall  early  in  the  day, 
but  was  not  hurt.  Rumour  says  a  lady  was  badly  hurt  hunting  in 
Westmeath  this  week. 

On  Saturday  the  Ward  Union  hounds  met  at  the  seventh  mile- 
stone of  the  Ashbourne  road,  and,  enlarging  not  very  far  off,  had 
a  nice  gallop  for  about  three  miles  or  so,  when  they  met  a  very 
long  and  decided  check  near  the  Fairy  House  Lane,  and  had  to 
abandon  pursuit,  as  the  flat  country  was  gorged  with  water,  and 
the  deer  persistently  ran  into  the  brimming  ditches  and  brooks, 
thus  killing  scent. 

On  Monday,  meeting  a  party  of  about  thirty  at  the  Flat 
House,  in  mist  and  rain,  they  enlarged  an  untried  red  deer  in  a 
field  near  the  Fairy  House  lane,  who  led  off  over  a  series  of 
water  jumps  that  wanted  not  a  little  stretch  to  cover  success- 
fully; a  short  horseshoe  described,  and  then  a  brief  excursion 
over  the  Meath  line,  when  a  colley  dog  had  a  cut  at  the  "  running 
deer,"  which  was  far  too  tempting  to  resist,  and  presently,  in 
jumping  an  up-fence,  she  met  with  an  accident,  and  so  ended  a 
very  short  pursuit — the  terminus  being  aptly  named  "  Quarry 
Land."  No.  2  was  a  fallow  deer,  who  had  also  a  strong  penchant 
for  water  ways,  the  very  first  obstacle  being  a  brook,  with  a  high 
bank  opposite,  too  large  to  stride  over;  so  horses  had  to  be 
forced  in,  and  then  ridden  out  of  the  water  up  the  bank.  A 
very  well-trained  hunter  of  Mr.  D'Arcy's  allowed  his  rider  to 
dismount  and  then  jumped  up  after  him.  All  were  not  so  well 
mannered,  and  had  the  hounds  been  running  at  any  pace,  a  good 
many  would  have  been  out  of  it;  but  just  at  this  moment  another 
coursing  match  was  going  on,  to  the  confusion  of  the  pack. 
Presently,  by  the  Ten-mile  Bush  farm,  where  the  pastures  rival  in 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  63 

size  those  of  the  Vale  of  Aylesbury,  the  hounds  began  to  run  in 
earnest — past  Rathbeggan,  past  Batterstown  Parsonage,  on  to 
Crookstown,  over  the  Trim  road ;  then,  after  a  short  circle,  she 
was  taken  after  a  very  twisting  gallop  of  some  fifty-five  minutes, 
of  which  Jem  Brindley  and  Mr.  W.  Butler  had  considerably  the 
best,  a  few  others  having  come  to  grief  at  a  double  into  the  road. 
"  The  sick  bay,"  as  the  blue  jackets  term  it,  is  already  crowded 
with  victims  to  blindness  of  fences,  want  of  real  condition,  and  the 
thousand  and  one  chances  and  mischances  which  the  mimicry  of 
war  brings  in  its  train.  Mr.  Coppinger,  one  of  the  hardest  of  the 
Ward  Union  light  weights,  got  a  nasty  fall  on  Saturday  when 
hunting '  with  this  pack,  and  his  leg  was  reported  as  broken ; 
but  I  believe  a  squeeze  and  bruise  was  the  extent  of  the  injury. 
Lord  Wa^erford  got  a  very  ugly-looking  fall  in  his  own  country, 
but  is  quits,  I  hear,  for  a  cut  head  and  face ;  while  Captains 
Slacke  and  Chichester  were,  I  am  told,  also  more  or  less  knocked 
about  I  myself  was  a  witness  to  a  very  narrow  escape  from 
pendulous  wire  on  a  bank  this  afternoon. 


64  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 


VI. 

"  In  spite  of  th'  unpromising  state  of  the  weather, 
Away  broke  the  fox  and  the  hounds  close  together. " 


Races  and  Rain — Punchestown  Gorse — Ward  Run — Galway  Blazers — Meath 
West  and  East— Sir  D.  Roche  ! 

A  SHARP  frost  and  a  fall  of  snow  so  early  in  the  season  are  as 
scaring  as  a  skeleton  or  death's  head  at  a  banquet,  or.  a  garrulous 
enfant  terrible  who  has  seen  no  one  knows  how  much,  and  won't 
be  bribed  or  threatened  into  discreet  silence;  and  yet  this  brief 
"cold  snap"  has  done  us  yeomen  service  in  clearing  away  a 
great  deal  of  the  obstacles  to  that  smooth  hunting  progress  which 
we  so  much  desiderated.  The  November  which  the  cynical  poet 
inveighed  against — 

"  No  warmth,  no  cheerfulness,  no  healthful  ease, 

No  comfortable  feel  in  any  member, 
No  shine,  no  shade,  no  butterflies,  no  bees, 

No  light,  no  leaves,  no  fruits,  no  flowers — November  ;  " 

is  on  us,  with  all  its  accessories  of  leaden  skies,  soppy  fields,  and 
darksome  horizons.  A  week  or  ten  days  ago,  the  light  streamed 
through  aisles  of  arched  foliage  of  many  hues,  like  the  subdued 
gleams  of  painted  and  stained  glass.  It  was  "the  torrent's 
smoothness  ere  it  rushed  below,"  and  now  we  are  face  to  face 
with  winter — the  winter  of  our  content.  The  tracery  of  the  trees 
is  fast  revealing  itself.  Presently  those  black  depths  of  with  and 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  65 

brambles  and  weeds  will  be  comparatively  bare  and  open,  and 
the  long  fringing  grass  which  now  makes  cuts  and  drains  in 
fields  almost  invisible  to  horse  and  rider,  will  have  disappeared. 
Riding  straight  over  the  country  has  been  a  service  of  danger; 
the  crop  of  accidents  has  not  been  a  small  one  by  any  means. 

Let  me  commence  with  a  very  brief  outline  of  sport  in  Louth, 
which  want  of  space  compelled  me  to  postpone  last  week,  merely 
alluding  to  a  single  day  in  an  eventful  week.  That  day  was 
Wednesday,  the  8th,  when  Mr.  Filgate  brought  his  pack  to 
Flatten.  They  found  instantly  a  fox  in  the  laurels  near  the 
house,  and  drove  him  into  the  covert.  Before  leaving  it  finally, 
the  fox  tried  the  earths,  and  made  a  complete  circuit  of  the 
place;  but  at  last  he  broke  by  the  Glen,  and  then  set  his  mask 
westward,  leaving  Duleek  on  his  left  and  Cruicerath  on  his  right. 
Away  he  raced  over  the  rocks  of  Carragubbin,  where  a  five-feet 
coped  wall  arrested  all  the  field  save  Mr.  Robert  Jameson,  who 
got  over  with  a  fall,  but  was  not  hurt,  and  from  this  point  he 
had  the  hounds  to  himself,  as  they  raced  by  Garballagh  and 
Weston  into  Somerville  Woods.  Here  there  was  a  check,  but 
the  pack  soon  got  right  again,  and  sent  their  quarry  through 
the  woods  into  the  open  by  Bessborough  and  Belrath,  rolling 
him  over  at  Lismool ;  one  hour  and  fifty -five  minutes  in  all, 
one  hour  and  five  minutes  up  to  Somerville.  By  1.30  p.m. 
pursuers  and  hounds  were  on  their  way  homewards,  which  fact 
speaks  well  for  the  satisfactory  nature  of  this  splendid  chase. 

On  the  nth  they  were  at  Churchtown.  The  fox  was  twice 
headed  in  his  efforts  to  break  from  the  gorse,  so  that  Mr.  Filgate 
drew  off  the  pack.  From  Clonbracton  they  had  a  ring;  in 
Rathony  they  found  again,  and  had  a  ringing  pursuit  by  Reas- 
town,  Cardistown,  and  Tullykeel,  the  fox  being  saved  by  the 
appearance  of  a  fresh  one,  who  took  off  the  hounds  towards 
Coolderry,  where  he  turned  by  Aclint  and  Nicholastown  into 
Knockably,  and  here  the  hounds  were  stopped,  after  one  hour 
fifty  minutes  in  all,  as  darkness  was  coming  on  apace. 


66  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

"Nocte  pluit  tota,  redeunt  spectacula  mane,"  says  the  old 
Latin  hexameter,  and  so  was  it  in  the  province  of  Leinster,  in 
the  island  of  Ireland,  on  the  night  of  the  i3th  of  November  and 
the  morning  of  the  i4th.  Let  the  hydrometrists  tell  us  how 
many  tons  of  water  fell  in  twenty-four  hours  !  My  weather 
gauge  was  a  couple  of  coats  soaked  like  sponges  in  an  un- 
usually short  time  on  Wednesday  afternoon ;  and  even  on 
Thursday  morning,  at  seven  o'clock  a.m.,  or  a  little  after — for  I 
will  not  assume  the  virtue  of  early  hours,  not  having  it — the  out- 
look was  what  sailors  call  decidedly  "dirty" — leaden  skies,  and 
scarcely  any  apparent  interval  'twixt  earth  and  heaven,  and  the 
rain  driven  against  the  windows  by  a  strong  west  wind  as  if  by 
a  powerful  hose.  "Sport  of  kings,  eh?"  is  the  uppermost  idea 
as  one  stands  in  the  land  of  sleepy  debate,  dubious  whether 
it  shall  be  instant  immersion  or  a  retrograde  movement  into  bed. 
Sport  of  kings,  indeed  !  Well,  methinks  I'll  appoint  a  vice-king 
to-day,  and  enjoy  myself  like  a  rational  subject  for  the  nonce. 
These  are  sleep-begotten  fantasies,  and  one  plunge  into  the 
Lethe  of  cold  water  banishes  them,  bringing  to  one's  recollection 
the  consoling  balsam  of  proverbial  wisdom  in  the  old  verse,  "  rain 
at  seven,  fine  at  eleven." 

There  were  two  hunting  events  of  major  interest  and  attraction 
(if  anything  could  be  attractive  to-day)  to  all  residents  in  what  I 
may  term  the  home  hunting  circuit,  namely,  a  by-day  with  the 
Ward  Union  hounds  at  Warrenstown  Gate,  to  capture,  if  possible, 
an  outlying  deer,  and  a  meet  of  the  Kildare  fox-hounds  at  Naas. 
Now,  the  Ward  Union  country  is  very  flat,  very  floodable,  and  my 
experience  of  yesterday  inclined  me  to  think  that  on  these  deluged 
plains  scent  would  not  be  very  serving,  nor  riding  very  pleasant  to 
man  or  horse.  (I  have  heard  since  that  the  capture  was  effected 
without  much  sport.)  On  the  other  hand,  to  hack  over  well-nigh 
a  score  of  miles  in  such  torrents,  and  to  find  your  natural 
avoirdupois  considerably  increased  by  water  concealed  about 
your  person,  is  not  a  very  inviting  experience.  On  the  whole, 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  67 

however,    Naas  and   its    charms   kick   the   beam.      Hunting    in 
rainstorm  or  windstorm  is  a  mockery,  a  delusion,  and  a  snare  ; 
but,  if  it  is  to  be  done,  there  is  no  better  neighbourhood  than 
Naas,  with  its  surroundings  of  light  gravelly  soil,  which  it  takes 
half  a  deluge  to  make  really  deep  or  holding  to  the  hoof.     A 
meet  at  Naas  is  what  Yankees  call  a  "  big  thing  "  in  the  ordinary 
way ;  to-day  it  was  almost — to  borrow  from  the  same  vernacular — 
a  one-horse  affair.      Few  came  from  Dublin,  Sir  Michael  Hicks 
Beach  proving  an  exception ;   none,  I  think,  from  the  Queen's 
County,  which   is   generally  represented   in    force.      Westmeath 
sent   none,  Meath   but  one  or   two.      The  Curragh  was  not   so 
liberal   in   its   patronage   as  usual.      Dunlavin  coursing   meeting 
kept  away  the  representatives  of  the  Tynte  family,  who  occasion- 
ally, with  their  party,  made  a  small  field  in  themselves;  but,  en 
revanche,  Sir  Charles  Burton  and  Mr.  Horace  Rochfort  did  duty 
for  Carlow,  while  Mr.  Frewen  (well  known  in  hunting  circles  on 
your  side  of  the  ditch),  the  Messrs.  Power,  and  Captain  Frank 
Cole  and   Mrs.   Cole  were  among  the  visitors;   and   Mr.    Rea 
Palliser  had  come   from  his  home  in  the  Curraghmore  country. 
It  is  not  a  day  to  survey  the  beauty  of  either  Naas  or  Kildare. 
The  houses  seem  to  have  their  hatches  battened  down  for  the 
foul  weather;  the  streets  are  desolate.     The  few  ladies  out  are 
waterproofed,  so  as  to  be  almost  nunlike.     By  11.20  a.m.  we  are 
en  rottte,  a  very  small  band,  for  Punchestown  Gorse,  a  mile  or  more 
distant.    Five  or  six  enterprising  ladies  have  now  joined  the  caval- 
cade, and  make  the  masculine  array  seem  smaller  by  comparison. 
The  first  field  off  the  road  on  our  way  to  the  dear  old  gorse  is 
now  in  tillage,  and  as  we  toil  over  and   through   its   furrows  a 
sense  of  gratitude  must  arise  that  we  have  so  little  arable  land 
in  this  country.     We  are  allowed  to  pass  (perhaps  not  hindered 
from    passing  would  be   more  correct)   through   the   well-known 
wicket  gate  in  the  corner  of  the  field  into  the  large  grass  field 
bordering  the  run  home,  and   this  in  itself  is  a  mercy,  because 
the  ugly  rush  made  to  it  on  the  proclamation  of  a  find  in  the 


68  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

gorse — the  kicking,  crowding,  squeezing,  malison,  and  evil 
speaking  consequent  upon  "  the  real  jam "  there — is  neither 
pleasant  in  itself  nor  advantageous  to  sport.  I  suppose  we  were 
on  parole,  and  certainly  no  one  went  far  into  the  field.  Perhaps 
the  field  was  so  unusually  small  that  mischief  was  not  much  feared. 
The  portion  of  the  gorse  in  sight  would  not  harbour  a  rabbit, 
much  less  a  fox,  as  it  has  been  recently  cut  down.  Beyond,  I 
believe  there  is  some  strong  good  lying,  and  now  we  can  look 
about  a  little,  for  the  rain  has  mitigated  somewhat,  and  there  goes 
the  Curragh  gun  for  noon.  It  is  seldom  that  a  field  in  this  part 
of  Kildare  does  not  contain  a  few  horses  of  name  and  character 
in  the  chasing  world.  Mr.  T.  Beasley  is  riding  New  Purchase,  a 
very  smart  young  bay  horse,  who  has  won  a  few  events  in  his 
time,  though  he  has  had  the  bad  luck  to  have  been  disqualified 
for  three  or  four  from  careless  weighing  and  mistaken  entry,  and  I 
know  not  what  else.  Mr.  Dundas  is  on  Ironmould.  Malone,  a  jock 
who  is  less  known  than  many,  but  whom  Kildare  farmers  patronise 
largely  (they  are  not  a  very  indiscriminate  class  either),  is  schooling 
a  sharp  little  bay  full  of  action,  but  rather  small  for  our  modern 
notions. 

But  no  more !  Music  mingles  with  the  west  wind — a  fox  is 
tallied  away  by  somebody,  and  Mr.  Percy  La  Touche,  a  very 
quick  starter,  is  half  across  the  wide  pasture  in  front  of  us.  The 
chase  began  with  a  gallop  over  the  racecourse  towards  Eades- 
town  or  Arthurstown;  but  a  quick  turn  to  the  right  decides 
the  direction,  and,  led  by  Mr.  Blacker,  on  his  trusty  grey,  we  are 
now  careering  on  towards  Keely's  farm,  en  route  peradventure  to 
"The  Banks"  or  Stonebrook.  Another  incline  to  the  right  dis- 
poses of  that  theory,  and  now  we  are  galloping  over  a  few  green 
fields,  having  crossed  the  Ballymore  Eustace  road,  and  skirting 
a  square  bog  plantation  full  of  heather,  known  as  Silliott  Bog  or 
the  Baron's  Bog  (the  Baron  de  Robeck  owns  and  planted  it),  in 
the  centre  of  which  the  hounds,  brought  into  strong  relief  by  the 
russet  heather  and  peat,  are  at  work  very  industriously,  and 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  69 

evidently  near  their  fox.  Ten  minutes'  delay  here  till  he  is  routed, 
when  his  line  takes  us  by  Mr.  Coffey's  farm  towards  Mullacash, 
where  he  tries  a  sewer  which  nipped  a  very  promising  run  in  the 
bud  last  season.  It  is  closed  tight  to-day,  and  presently,  after 
jumping  in  and  out  of  a  road,  we  are  in  a  network  of  small  fields, 
and  while  in  this  district  are  every  minute  at  a  fence.  Soon  we 
emerge  into  larger  fields  at  Dunshane  (Mr.  Maunder's),  over 
which  the  hounds  stream  away  at  good  pace;  then,  jumping  a 
small  wall,  we  very  soon  gain  the  deer-park  of  Harristown,  and, 
running  by  its  wall  and  the  ruined  castle,  we  again  cross  a  road 
leading  to  Ballymore  Eustace  (two  newly  made  banks  which  flank 
it  require  some  handiness  on  the  part  of  horses),  and  in  a  few 
fields  are  by  the  side  of  the  wall  of  Harristown  Park,  with  the 
Liffey  below,  and  the  Black  Thorns  on  its  further  bank. 

After  some  slow  hunting  in  the  park  of  Harristown,  this 
good  fox  was  given  up.  A  Stonebrook  fox  crossed  the  river 
Liffey,  and  did  not  give  anything  very  meritorious  in  the  way 
of  a  chase ;  nor  did,  as  I  learn,  an  Elverstown  evening  fox. 
The  first  was  a  very  pretty  hunting  run,  with  fencing  enough 
for  a  dozen  average  gallops,  in  which  the  ladies  and  the  visitors 
took  their  part  right  well,  Miss  Kilbee  and  Mrs.  Davis  repre- 
senting the  former,  while  Mr.  Rochfort,  of  Clogrennan,  and  Mr. 
Frewen  were  in  the  forefront  of  the  fray  all  through.  Mr.  Roch- 
fort seems  to  have  made  up  his  mind  to  apply  Mr.  Elmore's 
theory  and  practice  about  hunters,  namely,  that  to  keep  them 
right  you  must  always  keep  them  going,  as  Mr.  Rochfort's  grey 
seems  to  be  everlastingly  galloping,  jumping,  or  taking  a  railway 
constitutional ! 

The  Carlow  record  is  something  like  this.  On  the  28th  ult., 
after  drawing  Altamont  blank,  they  found  a  good  fox  at  Killrick, 
who  ran  the  banks  of  the  Slaney  for  a  couple  of  miles,  then 
crossed  under  Ballynoe,  and  gave  the  field  a  good  hunting 
pursuit  of  some  seven  miles,  ending  at  Knocklow,  where  he 
got  to  ground.  On  the  3ist,  after  some  hunting  at  Ballykealy, 


yo  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

they  had  a  sharp  forty  minutes  from  Castlemere.  On  the  7th 
inst.  they  met  at  Charlesfort,  and  had  a  good  forty-five  minutes' 
ring  from  a  small  patch  of  gorse  near  it. 

Post  nubila  Phoebus  !  After  the  rain  and  wind  storms  it  was 
quite  refreshing  to  bask  again  in  the  rays  of  even  a  wintry  sun, 
to  see  a  glimpse  of  blue  sky,  and  to  feel  that  the  elements  had, 
like  the  Sublime  Porte,  granted  a  short  armistice  to  us  storm- 
tossed,  rain-beaten  mortals.  My  path  to-day  led  me  to  Rath- 
beggan,  where  the  Ward  Union  men  were  to  congregate  to 
hunt  their  tri-weekly  stag.  Rathbeggan  is  only  a  very  short 
stage  distant  from  such  fixtures  as  the  Black  Bull,  the  Flat 
House,  and  the  other  townlands  and  farm  and  gentlemen's 
houses  beyond  Dumboyne,  which  give  names  to  the  meeting 
places.  The  traces  of  the  rain  floods  were  all  too  apparent 
on  the  left-hand  side  of  the  road  as  you  journeyed  from  Dublin, 
much  of  the  fine  pasture  land  being  a  mere  for  the  time  being, 
while  some  of  the  country  looked  like  Holland  with  the  dams 
cut,  as,  say,  when  William  the  Silent  flooded  it  to  rescue  Antwerp 
or  some  beleaguered  city  from  the  Spanish  attack.  A  little  further 
on  is  the  well-known  Ten-mile  Bush  Farm,  owned  by  a  Mr.  Boylan, 
who,  en  bon  Chretien,  if  he  has  raised  ramparts  round  his  do- 
minions, and  bounded  them  by  deep  and  broad  streams,  has 
gated  almost  every  field,  and — oh,  portentous  circumstance  ! — 
the  gates  are  in  useable,  every-day  order,  opening  and  shutting 
readily,  not  locked  or  secured  by  chains,  or  tied  by  a  suggawn 
(Anglice,  a  straw-rope),  which  is  probably  renewed  twice  or  three 
times  annually  when  the  gate  is  really  used.  The  pasture  fields 
of  this  farm  are  of  very  great  extent,  as  any  dairyman  from 
Leighton  Buzzard  or  Newport  Pagnell  would  admit,  with  ad- 
miration at  their  richness  of  hue  and  splendid  quality  of  herbage. 
Here  our  chase  after  the  red  deer,  "His  Lordship,"  began  in 
earnest,  the  hounds  racing  after  him  over  these  fine  reaches. 
Through  three  gates  had  we  proceeded  at  a  very  smart  hand 
gallop,  which  stretched  the  slow  ones,  and  over  a  considerable 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  71 

distance,  when  we  are  confronted  suddenly,  and  I  must  say 
most  unpleasantly,  by  a  bank  studded  with  quicksets  and  gorse, 
beyond  it  a  river,  and  a  bank  on  its  far  side.  The  whole  bank 
on  the  near  side  seemed  honeycombed  by  rabbits'  burrows.  To 
the  strangers  the  depths  of  the  swollen  river  were  quite  un- 
known. I  daresay  at  times  it  is  quite  fordable,  and  a  handy 
horse  can  be  worked  in  and  out  without  much  bother  or  diffi- 
culty. Some  men  who  knew  all  about  it  pulled  up  before  we 
got  to  this  huge  obstacle,  and  diverged  I  know  not  whither- 
All  I  can  aver  in  the  truth  of  hunting  story  is  that  it  seemed 
to  arrest  all  alike — the  cautious,  the  bold,  the  rash,  the  im- 
petuous, the  overweening,  the  reckless,  the  steeplechase  rider, 
and  the  many-seasoned  huntsman;  along  its  banks  we  seemed 
to  spread  out  like  a  fan,  looking  for  that  apparent  impossibility, 
a  practicable  spot.  In  a  few  minutes  I  saw  a  very  small  division 
galloping  on  the  far  side.  (They  had,  as  I  subsequently  learnt, 
the  key  to  the  fortress.)  My  companions  in  misfortune  and 
prison  turned  their  backs  on  the  relentless  barrier,  and  tried 
to  flank  it.  Here  a  second  river,  with  boggy  banks,  interposes ; 
but  a  good  grey,  ridden  by  Mr.  Robertson,  nicking  a  good 
take-off  and  landing,  showed  us  the  way  over.  A  very  hard- 
riding  welter  attempts  to  follow ;  but,  though  he  lands  on  the 
far  side  with  the  reins  in  his  hands,  his  hunter  is  taking  a  cold 
bath,  and  cooling  his  master's  saddle  for  him.  A  third  experi- 
menter in  hydrostatics  tried  a  seemingly  fordable  spot ;  but  he 
was  seen  swimming  very  soon. 

"  Like  whales  in  the  water,  some  floundered  about ; 
Thrown  off  and  thrown  in,  they  were  also  thrown  out. " 

After  all,  an  easy  spot  was  presently  discovered  a  few  hundred 
yards  higher,  and  it  turned  out  most  fortunately  that  we  craners, 
shirkers,  and  hydrophobists  were  not  doomed  to  pay  a  very 
heavy  penalty  for  our  discretion  as  we  were  riding  on  the  arc 
of  the  circle,  and  came  in  with  the  chase  very  soon.  Batters- 


72  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

town  is  left  behind;  a  road,  which  I  should  think  went  to 
Dunshaughlin,  is  crossed — and  a  very  nasty  fence  led  out  of 
it;  for  perhaps  a  couple  of  miles  the  line  leads  over  beautiful 
level  pastures,  intersected  by  deep  and  broad  water-cuts.  Then 
there  is  a  short  check.  We  are  now  on  the  edge  of  Ballyma- 
glasson  (Mr.  Thompson's  residence)  Lands,  and  a  couple  of 
fences  that  want  doing  lead  us  in  and  out  of  a  wood,  or  rather 
a  skirting  plantation  (I  fancy  not  a  few  stopped  at  this  point, 
having  had  already  a  fine  gallop).  Then  on  we  go  over  a  line 
of  most  enjoyable  country — the  fences  smaller,  and  mostly 
singles — till  we  pass  the  Hatchet,  a  celebrated  meet  of  the 
Meath  hounds,  with  Coulstown  and  Mulhussey  Castle  to  our 
left.  At  this  period  of  the  run  His  Lordship  was  probably 
headed,  for  he  made  a  very  abrupt  turn  to  the  right.  Some 
slowish  hunting,  though  without  casting,  succeeded,  the  line  all 
the  time  being  over  the  most  inviting  fields,  and  the  most 
pleasant  of  fences.  "  Wire  ! "  about  this  time,  I  hear  Charlie 
Brindley  shouting,  who  was  on  his  very  well-known  grey,  "  Wire  ! 
'ware  wire ! "  but  there  was  a  capital  spot  in  the  fence,  and  no 
harm  occurred. 

When  I  first  took  an  observation,  though  it  was  necessarily 
a  very  hurried  one,  we  were  galloping  over  that  beautiful  bit  of 
upland  between  the  fox  coverts  of  Culmullen  and  Beltrasna,  and 
going  along  at  very  good  pace  indeed,  though  far  from  straight. 
The  next  landmark  or  place  of  significance  that  we  entered  was 
Woodtown,  the  deer  apparently  leading  us  on  to  Summerhill ; 
here,  however,  an  inclination  to  the  left  brought  us  to  a  rather 
lower  level,  and  we  passed  through  the  little  village  of  Moy- 
nalvey,  which  had  the  honour  of  giving  a  name  to  a  well-known 
stag  a  season  or  two  past ;  the  entire  population,  including  "  the 
Force "  (the  constabulary  is  so  named  here),  and  "  the  fair " 
abandoning  their  flirting  (none  but  the  brave  deserve  the  fair, 
you  know),  gossip,  knitting,  or  potato  washing,  to  gaze  on  the 
chase  as  it  floated  by.  Time,  too,  is  on  the  wing.  Are  we  never 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  73 

to  get  on  terms  with  this  long-winded  wanderer  ?  At  last !  In 
perhaps  a  mile  or  a  mile  and  a  half  from  Moynalvey  we  view 
him  at  the  other  side  of  a  quickset  hedge  loafing  along  most 
contentedly,  and  apparently  very  fresh;  but  the  pack  see  him 
too,  and  in  a  few  fields  they  force  him  into  the  yard  of  a  small 
farmhouse,  the  only  one  in  view;  and,  Jem  Brindley  and  his 
father  being  as  usual  close  to  the  pack,  His  Lordship  is  secured, 
with  only  a  few  scratches  about  his  ears,  to  repeat  a  similar 
performance  later  on  in  the  season,  we  may  fondly  hope. 

One  hour  and  forty-two  minutes,  says  the  timekeeper,  Mr. 
Morrogh,  who  has  been  in  front  all  through,  on  a  very  neat, 
small,  bay  horse,  and  I  know  his  watch  is  accuracy  itself.  On 
the  map  it  is  very  hard  to  estimate  the  distance,  for  His  Lord- 
ship did  not  run  straight  from  point  to  point,  like  a  fox — far 
from  it;  but  even  on  the  map  the  distance  covered  measures 
something  very  considerable,  and  I  should  say  that  it  would  not 
be  easy  to  walk  the  exact  track  of  the  deer  very  much  under  a 
score  of  miles.  The  distance  ridden,  allowing  for  short  cuts  and 
other  such  helps,  could  not  have  been  much  (if  at  all)  under 
fifteen  miles.  The  line  was  over  the  very  cream  of  Meath,  and 
we  skirted  a  number  of  fox  coverts,  such  as  Culmullen,  Beltrasna, 
Pratt's  Gorse,  and  Larch  Hill.  Out  of  a  large  field,  I  do  not 
think  more  than  fifteen  or  sixteen  pursued  to  the  capturing 
point,  among  whom — for  I  cannot  pretend  to  catalogue  them 
— were  Messrs.  Morrogh,  Meldon,  O'Reilly,  Hone,  Coleridge, 
Daly,  Macneil,  Bayley,  Morris,  M'Cormick,  Hanaway,  Percy 
Maynard,  Murland,  T.  Turbitt,  and  a  few  more.  Mr.  M'Geer, 
riding  a  chestnut  of  Captain  Davis's,  went  admirably  up  to  a 
point.  The  fencing  of  Mr.  MacneiPs  chestnut  was  a  thing  to 
look  at.  Mr.  Allen,  who  is  no  feather,  was  very  well  carried,  and 
so  was  Mr.  Meldon,  who  rode  as  if  some  fairy  had  graciously 
taken  off  his  three  or  four  stone  of  overplus  (if  we  set  the  standard 
at  i2St.  7lb.).  A  General  Hess  grey  of  Dr.  Daly's  was  going 
extremely  well,  and  so  was  a  young  one  of  Mr.  Runaway's,  and  a 


74  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

small  thick  bay  horse  of  Mr.  M'Cormick's.  Captain  Wardrop  sent 
a  four-year-old  along  most  merrily  for  a  few  miles,  and  Mr.  Dundas 
was  pleasantly  carried  by  Mistletoe.  A  long  ride  home  to  stables 
and  train  followed ;  but  the  evening  was  beautifully  fine,  and  the 
sky,  shot  with  rose  and  maze,  may  be  said  to  have  tinted  to-morrow 
with  prophetic  ray — the  prophecy  of  frost  versus  rain. 

In  Galway  Mr.  Persse's  career  has  been  almost  uninterruptedly 
successful.  On  the  4th  he  was  at  Ballyduggan,  in  the  Loughrea 
country,  from  which  I  recollect  seeing  a  most  spirit-stirring  fox 
chase  and  kill  some  two  or  three  seasons  ago ;  but,  strange  to  say, 
it  was  drawn  blank  on  this  occasion.  Hollyhill,  however,  held  a 
brace,  one  of  which  ran  over  a  charming  line  by  Carra  Gorse,  and 
was  turned  up  just  as  he  was  nearing  Ballydonelane,  twenty-five 
minutes  of  beautiful  going.  On  the  6th  he  visited  his  Athenry 
country,  and  found  three  foxes  at  Cregmore,  one  of  which  he  hunted 
with  bad  scent  for  an  hour,  and  put  to  ground  at  Coolarne,  where 
Mr.  Meldon  (equally  entered  to  fox  and  stag)  insisted  on  everyone 
taking  something  comforting  and  cheering,  and  then  provided  a 
fox  in  one  of  his  coverts,  which  the  bitch  pack  rolled  over  in 
twenty-two  minutes.  On  the  8th  he  went  to  his  Tuam  country, 
and,  as  a  matter  of  course,  found  at  once  in  Gallagh,  and  had  two 
rings  with  fresh  foxes,  threatening  mischief;  but  the  wavering  was 
only  temporary,  and,  sticking  to  their  original  quarry,  they  sent 
him  at  top  speed  through  Brown's  Gorse,  and  raced  into  him  in 
the  open,  close  to  Kilclooney,  one  hour  and  fifteen  minutes  from 
the  find,  with  only  two  slight  hesitations. 

The  entry  of  this  year  is  doing  very  well ;  and  if  the  trappers 
will  only  leave  foxes  alone,  a  very  high-class  season  of  sport  may 
be  anticipated  in  Galway,  judging  from  present  appearances. 

On  the  1 3th  inst.  the  Westmeath  hounds  were  at  Pakenham 
Hall  (Lord  Longford's  park),  where  the  hunting  was  principally 
of  the  covert  order ;  but  from  Gillardstown,  which  is  rather  cele- 
brated for  its  stout  foxes,  they  took  one  away  at  good  pace 
towards  Kanturk,  thence  by  Berrison  Lodge  straight  into  Knock 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  75 

Ion,  where  he  got  to  ground — twenty  minutes  of  galloping  with- 
out the  sign  of  a  check ;  a  wire,  which  had  to  be  cut,  gave  the 
hounds  a  good  lead,  of  which  they  were  never  deprived.  Mr. 
Montague  Chapman,  the  master,  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Malone  and  her 
husband,  with  General  Curzon  Smyth,  were  about  the  nearest  to 
them  throughout  the  scurry.  On  Saturday  they  were  at  Galston 
and  Gaybrook,  and  had  some  covert  hunting ;  but  scent  disap- 
peared in  the  evening,  when  they  had  got  a  fox  to  face  the  open 
fairly. 

Meath  appears  to  me  to  be  suffering  from  an  easily  cured  com- 
plaint— a  plethora  of  foxes — and  Goodall  is  applying  the  lancet 
freely;  but  until  a  certain  number  of  these  superabundant  foxes 
have  been  improved  off  the  face  of  the  earth  and  the  remainder 
taught  to  seek  their  safety  in  instant  and  protracted  flight,  first- 
class  sport  cannot  be  generally  expected,  as  the  seasoned  old 
foxes  slip  away  directly,  and  leave  the  hounds  to  deal  with  a  rabble 
of  uneducated  cubs,  who  relieve  each  other  at  intervals,  and 
do  little  more  than  run  circles  with  home  for  centre.  I  hear, 
however,  that  forty  minutes  on  Monday  (the  day  they  met  at 
Bengerstown)  was  really  good,  while  Wednesday's  sport  was,  on 
dit,  of  quite  superior  stamp  and  complexion.  I  have  already 
narrated  something  of  my  personal  experiences  and  observations 
in  the  very  fine  stag-hunt  which  the  Ward  Union  men  had  that 
day,  sipping  or  skimming  (whichever  analogy  you  please,  gentle 
readers)  the  cream  of  the  Dublin  and  Meath  counties  as  they  went 
along;  so,  labouring  under  the  heavy  disability  of  not  being 
ubiquitous,  I  regret  I  cannot  give  you  as  vivid  or  graphic  a  sketch 
of  the  "  day's  doings  "  as  I  should  like.  The  pack  met  on  that 
day  at  Killallon,  where  a  clump  of  trees  on  a  mound  and  a  lonely 
chapel  formed,  some  two  years  ago,  if  my  memory  serves  me  truly, 
a  sort  of  pivot  or  buoy — to  borrow  a  yachting  simile — for  some 
twenty  or  thirty  red-coated  sportsmen  in  their  annual  chase.  Well 
I  recollect  the  scene,  and  poor  Rufus  Montgomery  (whom  Meath 
and  Dublin  still  mourn),  the  cheeriest  and  lightest-hearted  of  the 


7  6  HIBERNIAN  VENA  TIC  A. 

party,  though  he  had  not  much  expectation  of  winning,  and  I 
think  he  merely  entered  a  hunter  for  the  ride  and  sociability  of 
the  thing.  I  refer  to  the  fact  of  the  country  being  the  theatre  for 
a  red-coat  race  to  illustrate  its  character  and  class.  The  hounds, 
it  would  seem,  found  a  good  fox  directly  they  were  in  the  gorse, 
and,  forcing  him  out  of  it,  spun  him  along  at  a  pace  which  a 
racing  man  who  rode  it  described  to  me  as  extremely  fast,  scent 
being  at  its  highest  and  best.  The  line  lay  by  Ballinlough  Castle, 
the  residences  and  parks  of  Lord  Vaux  and  Sir  Charles  Nugent, 
till  it  led  into  the  woods  of  Killua  (Sir  B.  Chapman's),  where  the 
coverts  were  being  shot ;  and,  to  avoid  clashing  with  the  gunning 
interests,  the  hounds  were  stopped,  with  a  very  beaten  fox  in  front 
of  them.  Thirty-five  minutes  over  such  a  country  at  such  a  pace 
is  not  a  bad  allowance  of  sport ;  but  Kilgar  Gorse,  Sam  Reynell's 
(great  men  must  not  be  Mistered)  celebrated  covert,  gave  them  a 
wind-up  of  fifty  minutes  of  good  hunting  by  Lough  Crew  into 
Clonabraney ;  so  I  hope  I  have  shown  cause  sufficient  why  Meath 
should  register  this  especial  Wednesday  as  a  red-lettered  day  in 
her  calendar.  I  spoke  of  the  prospects  of  frost  versus  rain  in  my 
ride  homewards  on  Wednesday  evening.  Alas  !  I  must  never  set 
up  again  for  a  weather  prophet,  seeing  the  Thursday  that  suc- 
ceeded was  about  the  soakingest  day  that  has  come  out  of  the 
heavens  for  a  small  age. 

On  Friday,  the  i;th,  the  Meath  hounds  made  a  nearer 
approach  to  the  metropolis  than  they  have  done  so  far  this  sea- 
son— Dunshaughlin,  the  congregating  spot,  being  thirteen  and 
three-quarters  of  Irish  mileage  N.W.  of  Dublin,  on  the  old  Ennis- 
killen  coach  road.  Its  Celtic  spelling  is  Dunshaghelyn,  and  the 
nuncupation  has  something  to  do  with  St.  Patrick's  nephew,  St. 
Seachlan,  whose  uncle  fox-hunters  should  duly  honour,  as,  when 
he  banished  snakes  and  other  vermin  from  the  saintly  soil,  he 
spared  the  fox.  The  distance  from  Dublin  was  just  sufficient  to 
banish  the  pic-nicking-out-for-the-day  element,  while  it  presented 
no  difficulty  to  hunting  men  properly  so  called,  as  the  Navan  line 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  77 

was  available  in  the  neighbourhood,  while  Ratoath,  Dunboyne, 
and  Dunshaughlin  itself  abound  in  good  healthy  boxes,  where 
horses  can  be  made  exceedingly  comfortable  if  sent  on  overnight. 
A  frosty  morning  ushered  in  a  glorious  forenoon,  with  such  accom- 
paniments as  the  most  transparent  luminous  atmosphere  and  a 
very  warm  sun.     Scent  might  be  good,  but  all  the  chances  and 
prognostics  were  dead  against  such  a  happy  consummation.    Dun- 
shauglin  is   a  village,   and  within  a  mile  of  it  is  one  of  those 
imposing  semi-Gothic  structures  for   in-door  relief  for  the   poor 
which  are  so  lavishly  dotted  over  Ireland.     Between  the  two  is  a 
small  gorse,  well  isolated  and  very  holding,  which  rejoices  in  the 
title  of  the  "  Poorhouse  Gorse."     Seldom  was  a  well-mounted  field 
seen  to  greater  advantage,  or  in  brighter  or  more  becoming  con- 
trasts of  colour  than  in  the  green  pasture  field  outside  the  fox-haunt 
during  the  five  or  six  minutes  between  "  leuing  "  the  dog  pack  in 
and  the  find  and  "  gone  away."     The  carriages  are  a  long  way  off 
(a  mercy,  perhaps),   and   some  100  or  120   of  about  the  best- 
mounted  men  going  are  flashing  about  in  the  field,  in  scarlet  and 
black.     Kildare  has  mustered  pretty  strongly  here  to-day,  sending, 
amongst  others,  Lord  Cloncurry,  the  Hon.  C.  Bourke,  and  Mr.  W. 
Forbes  to  the  fray.    The  garrison  of  Dublin  spares  a  certain  number 
of  Inniskillings  and  3rd  Dragoon  Guards  from  parade  and  riding 
school ;  and  Captain  Graves  Sawle  represents  the  staff,  Colonel 
Forster  the  viceroyalty.     Lord  Langford's  party  from  Summerhill 
is  a  large  one ;  among  them  are  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy, 
Lord  Francis  Lennox,  and  the  Hon.  Captain  Rowley.     The  Ward 
Union  men  are  quite  at  home  here,  for  they  occupy  the  soil  we 
ride  over ;  but  there  is  no  more  time  to  survey  the  fair  scene,  the 
goodly  array.     He  has  gone  away ;  four  or  five  couple  of  the  dog 
pack  are  out  of  the  gorse,  and  if  that  is  not  enough  to  hunt  any 
fox  without  the  field,  I  know  nothing  about  it.     At  any  rate,  so 
thinks  the  hard-riding  division,  headed  by  Lord  Howth,  as  they 
skim  over  a  bank  and  ditch,  which  is  succeeded  by  a  very  large 
one,  with  an  embankment  on  the  far  side.     In  a  very  few  fields 


78  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

we  are  in  Lagore  Park  (Mr.  Thunder's  place),  and  here  our  fox, 
after  a  few  rambles  round  and  round,  gets  to  ground.  Another 
follows  suit.  Let  us  leave  these  many-burrowed  woods,  and  speed 
on  to  the  Reisk  Gorse.  Alas  !  one  of  our  gallant  cavalcade  can 
no  longer  accompany  us.  Mr.  French,  of  Ardsallagh,  one  of  the 
staunchest  supporters  of  the  fox  interest  in  Meath,  has  met  with  a 
serious  accident,  and  is  now  lying  at  the  Lodge  of  Lagore  with  his 
leg  broken  in  two  places.  Dr.  Daly  is  soon  on  the  spot ;  Mr. 
Thunder's  comfortable  family  coach  takes  the  veteran  sportsman 
to  his  home,  some  seven  or  eight  miles  distant ;  all  good  wishes 
will  accompany  him ;  but  all  this  fortunate  combination  of  circum- 
stances cannot  undo  the  serious  mischief,  and  if  the  owner  of  the 
kicker  is  given  to  reflections,  they  cannot  be  pleasant.  Now,  most 
people  who  are  in  the  habit  of  hunting  with  any  popular  pack  in 
Ireland  know  one  or  two  horses  who  are  notoriously  dangerous 
of  approach ;  they  avoid  them.  Strangers  cannot  be  so  forewarned, 
and  may  suffer  like  Mr.  French  to-day.  Last  year  Captain  Tathill 
had  the  narrowest  of  escapes  from  the  playful  heels  of  a  young 
horse.  Surely  society  should  combine  against  the  owner  of  an 
inveterate  kicker  at  men,  horses,  or  hounds,  if  he  persists  in  mingling 
in  the  crowd  after  due  warning.  Damages  were  recovered  in  the 
South  of  Ireland  very  lately  on  similar  grounds ;  if  a  vicious-habited 
dog  make  a  master  liable  to  an  action,  why  not  a  horse  ?  I  talk 
not  now  of  over-fresh  coltish  horses  of  exuberant  spirits,  but  of 
confirmed  outlashers. 

A  mile  or  twain,  through  pleasant  fields  mostly,  brings  us  to 
the  Little  Reisk  Gorse ;  ten  minutes  sees  the  field  galloping  fast 
for  full  a  mile  to  a  swollen  brook  or  river,  which  some  cross  by 
bridge,  some  ford  and  with  difficulty.  Half  a  mile  beyond  this 
point  is  Kilbrew  Hill,  an  old  park,  with  groves  on  the  top.  The 
hounds  meanwhile  had  run  by  a  small  stick  covert,  and  the  well- 
known  answer  of  a  covert-keeper  to  an  interviewing  M.F.H.  was 
never,  perhaps,  better  illustrated.  "  Are  there  any  foxes  in  the 
Bog  covert  now,  Pat?"  "Is't  fawxes,  yer-anner?  they  do  be 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  79 

jostling  one  another  down  there."  So  it  was  to-day.  Foxes  were 
afoot  in  all  directions.  After  climbing  Kilbrew,  the  hounds  sent 
one  on  towards  Somerville,  when  he  swung  back,  ran  some  water 
meadows  where  brooks  abounded  (brook  upon  brook,  by  the  way, 
is  bad  heraldry  surely),  and  unus  e  pluribus  was  killed  as  he  neared 
the  stick  covert.  Corbalton  Gorse,  the  last  draw,  produced  more 
foxes  than  sport.  I  can  only  allude  here  to  a  capital  day's  sport 
which  the  Galway  hounds  enjoyed  last  Tuesday  from  Derrahiney, 
Colonel  Featherstonhaugh's  place,  and  from  Longford. 

Saturday  was  a  day  of  brilliant  scent  and  sport,  at  least  within 
a  wide  radius  of  Dublin.  The  Kildare  hounds  met  an  immense 
crowd  at  Kingswood  in  fog  and  mist,  in  which  it  was  no  easy  task 
to  ride  straight  or  follow  the  hounds,  save  by  the  sense  of  sound. 
The  "  day's  doings,"  to  which  I  shall  recur  in  my  next  letter,  were 
a  sharp  scurry  from  Belgard,  through  Dr.  Kennedy's  place,  to  the 
Green  Hills,  where  their  fox  got  to  ground.  They  went  a  very 
quick  gallop  from  Miss  Gould's  Gorse  to  a  point  near  Castle  Bagot, 
where  the  hounds  ran  into  their  fox.  The  third  was  a  fine  run 
from  Johnstown  Kennedy,  through  Coolmine,  to  Saggart,  when 
night  intervened.  The  Ward  Union  hounds  had,  on  the  same 
date,  an  extremely  sharp  35  minutes  from  the  neighbourhood  of 
Ashbourne  to  a  point  near  Garristown  Hill.  Here  a  view  was 
obtained  of  their  deer,  and  15  more  minutes  succeeded,  as  fast  as 
could  be  desired. 

Sir  David  Roche  had  a  splendid  pursuit  last  Friday  from 
Ballingarry  Gorse  to  Adare  Manor  (Lord  Dunraven's) — to  which  I 
shall  refer  by-and-by — eleven  miles,  and  a  crowning  kill. 

The  Westmeath  hounds  had  a  couple  of  good  gallops  on  the 
1 5th,  when  they  met  at  Moate;  the  second,  from  Kavedonully 
Gorse,  ended  in  a  kill,  after  a  very  good  thirty-five  minutes ;  while 
Mr.  Filgate,  on  Friday  last,  after  killing  two  foxes  (one  a  good  one, 
too),  and  sending  another  to  ground  after  a  short  pursuit,  finished 
a  very  fine  hunting  run  of  i  hour  40  minutes  by  rolling  over  a 
rare  stout  fox  from  Blackball. 


8o  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 


VII. 


"  Let  statesmen  on  politics  parley, 

Let  heroes  go  fight  for  renown ; 
While  I've  health  to  go  hunting  with  Charley, 
I  envy  no  monarch  his  crown. " 


Hunting    bravery — Belgard — Kickers    and     Kickees — Sir    D.     Roche — The 
Fairy  House — Somerville  scenery — Kilkenny  sport — Shiner. 

IT  was  Somerville,  I  think,  the  classic  bard  of  hunting,  who  first 
taught  us  to  look  upon  the  chase  as  the  noble  mimicry  of  war. 

' '  My  hoarse-sounding  horn 
Invites  thee  to  the  chase,  the  sport  of  kings, 
Image  of  war  without  its  guilt," 

says  the  author  of  this  unrivalled  poem,  in  the  turgid  language  of 
his  day,  and  if  there  be  but  one  Milton  of  hunting,  surely  Jorrocks 
is  his  prophet,  for  he  has  made  the  quotation  referred  to  a  house- 
hold word  among  us.  And  yet,  perhaps,  a  closer  parallel  might  be 
found  in  the  institutions  of  chivalry,  which,  having  faithfully  served 
its  purpose  in  the  darker  periods  of  mediaeval  history,  exists  no 
longer  in  concrete  form,  though  much  of  its  better  part  and  spirit 
can  never  know  extinction  or  decay  so  long  as  gentleness  and 
manliness  find  their  embodiment  in  what  we  call  a  gentleman. 
For,  in  the  first  place,  horses  and  cavalry  are  merely  accidents, 
splendid  accidents,  no  doubt,  of  war,  and  not  of  its  essence; 
whereas  in  chivalry,  the  horse  was  as  essential  to  the  knight  as  his 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  81 

lance  or  his  armour,  for  a  "  grabby"  in  those  days  belonged  to  a 
different  class  and  caste.  Then,  again,  the  armourer  in  those 
times  was  as  great  and  important  a  personage  as  our  own  Bartly 
and  Peel,  Tautz  Anderson  and  Hammond,  all  rolled  into  one, 
while  grooms,  pages,  esquires,  all  find  their  counterparts,  more  or 
less,  in  the  hunting  field  of  to-day.  A  perusal  of  Froissart  and 
other  chroniclers  of  the  period,  assures  us  that  Sir  Brian  de  Bois 
was  just  as  particular  about  the  sheen  of  his  morion,  the  burnish 
of  his  mail,  as  is  the  Hon.  Crasher  about  the  shade  of  his  tops, 
the  length  of  his  bows,  the  squareness  of  his  tie,  in  the  century  we 
live,  move,  and  have  our  being  in.  No  doubt  the  knight  with  his 
blazon  of  heraldry,  and  his  smart  esquire  and  page,  was  a  very 
gallant  sight  to  look  upon,  and  that  fair  eye  of  chatellaines  and 
bower  women  followed  him  as  he  rode  over  the  castle  moat, 
making  his  clumsy  Flemish  beast  caracole  as  it  was  duly  taught 
in  the  manage.  But  will  not  half  a  dozen  of  our  modern  hunting 
dandies,  with  their  smart  second  horsemen,  bear  comparison  with 
them  even  in  the  matter  of  bravery  and  burnish,  putting  aside  the 
enormous  superiority  in  horseflesh  which  modern  chivalry  pos- 
sesses ?  No  !  Conservative  as  is  the  modern  hunting  world  in 
general,  few  will,  I  think,  gainsay  the  assertion  that  a  popular 
fixture  in  the  shires  (be  they  English  or  Irish — for  we,  too,  claim  our 
shires)  is  in  fine  weather  a  gayer  and  fairer  sight  than  was  joust 
or  tournament,  with  lists,  heralds,  and  queens  of  beauty  in  the  elder 
days — just  as  it  excels  in  cultivated  eye  and  taste  the  barbaric  splen- 
dour of  elephants  in  cloth  of  gold,  and  all  the  magnificence  and 
splendour  with  which  the  Orient  invests  its  hunting  celebrations. 

These  reflections  have  been  caused  by  sundry  recent  meets  in 
this  country,  whose  size,  volume,  quality,  and  smartness  show  not 
only  the  exceeding  popularity  of  hunting  in  this  island,  but  the 
enormous  strides  which  the  study  of  hunting  properties  has  made 
of  recent  years.  A  late  master  of  a  crack  pack  in  England  made 
the  same  observation  to  me,  as  the  sight  impressed  him  greatly. 
As  a  sign  of  national  wealth  and  prosperity  we  hail  it  with  delight, 

G 


82  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

and  as  a  proof  also  that  we  are  assimilating  to  the  manners  and 
customs  of  our  elder  and  wealthier  sister,  whom  we  resemble  in 
so  many  things  barring  in  this  year  " those  Bonds"  from  which, 
thank  goodness,  we  are  mainly  free.  If  we  chose  to  pursue  the 
analogy  further  we  might  easily  do  so,  seeing,  that  recent  rapid 
scurries  have  left  their  marks  on  full  many  a  pursuer,  and  that  the 
knight  of  the  rueful  countenance  is  no  stranger  to  the  array;  in 
fact,  as  somebody  said  the  other  day,  between  swollen  lips, 
scratched  faces,  black  eyes,  and  general  contusions,  a  strange 
"interviewer"  might,  only  for  the  horses,  fancy  a  lively  little 
"  glove  fight "  had  recently  been  enacted  in  the  neighbourhood. 

Such  a  monster  meet  took  place  at  Kingswood  on  Saturday, 
the  1 8th ;  and  though  the  frame  of  a  fine  park  and  the  groundwork 
of  a  smooth  lawn  were  wanting  to  make  the  picture  complete, 
there  was  a  very  imposing  congregation  in  front  and  alongside  of 
Mr.  Walsh's  residence,  very  near  the  sixth  milestone  on  the  Naas 
and  Dublin  highway;  and  had  the  Hyades  only  withheld  their 
watery  influences,  and  the  fog  generated  thereby  only  raised  its 
curtain  for  a  few  hours,  the  scene  of  this  morning  might  be 
reckoned  among  the  most  picturesque  and  pleasant  which  the 
hunting  panorama  unfolds.  But  soaking  rain,  followed  by  dense 
vapour,  are  not  enlivening  conditions;  and  the  show  of  purple 
(pink  if  you  will),  and  burnish  of  steel,  and  sleekness  of  hunters' 
coats  suffered  greatly  from  the  water-laden  atmosphere.  The 
proximity  to  Dublin  attracted  naturally  a  very  great  crowd,  and  on 
a  moderately  fine  forenoon  the  master  of  the  Kildare  hounds  may 
always  reckon  on  a  large  field,  and  a  queue  of  carriages  that  would 
not  discredit  Bond-street  or  Regent-street  at  their  shoppingest 
hour  (of  course,  I  mean  only  in  point  of  number) ;  but  to-day's 
field  was  unusually  large,  and  smarter  in  its  component  element 
than  one  usually  sees.  The  gallant  defenders  of  Dublin  came 
thither  in  all  arms— gunners,  engineers,  heavy  dragoons,  lancers 
riflemen,  infantry,  and  staff — and  in  such  numbers  that  we  think 
the  metropolitan  military  authorities  must  favour  the  rational  theory 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  83 

that  for  cavalry  officers  the  hunting  field  is  an  apter  parade  ground 
and  more  practically  useful  than  barrack  square  or  riding  school. 
The  Inniskillings  had  been  entertaining  the  Duke  of  Connaught 
and  a  large  party  at  the  Royal  Barracks  on  the  previous  evening, 
and  that  may  partly  account  for  the  large  attendance  of  soldier 
officers ;  for  his  Royal  Highness's  mail  phaeton  was  at  the  meet 
with  exemplary  punctuality,  and  soon  afterwards  Captain  Ward 
Bennett  brought  up  the  Inniskilling  coach,  full  inside  and  out  as  it 
could  hold,  while  Captain  Wardrop  followed  suit  with  the  3rd 
Dragoon  Guards ;  the  outriders  of  the  viceregal  carriage  pioneer 
their  handsome  horses,  and  after  them  follows  a  mass  of  equipages 
too  numerous  to  take  stock  of  just  now.  Of  hunting  men  and 
hunting  women  there  were  many  scores  assembled,  "  never  mind 
the  weather  "  being  apparently  their  motto  and  slogan,  so  long  as 
the  tambourine  can  be  kept  rolling  and  sport  and  excitement  sus- 
tained without  flagging  or  intermission.  Among  the  "  visitors,"  in 
opposition  to  the  habitues,  were  General  Herbert,  Mr.  Frewen,  a 
pursuer  or  two  from  Meath,  and  one  or  two  from  Galway's  remote 
bounds. 

We  are  in  an  atmosphere  like  a  vapour  bath,  but  as  the  fog 
won't  disappear,  and  hunting  the  fox  is  our  object  and  purpose,  a 
beginning  must  be  made,  and  with  this  view  the  master  sets  the 
cortege  in  motion  towards  Belgarde,  which  is  the  first  draw. 
Belgarde  has  always  been  a  piece  de  resistance  for  the  Kildare 
hounds,  seldom  visited  without  finding  foxes ;  and,  though  not 
quite  equal  to  "  the  Cheshire  breeches,"  that  the  Laureate,  with 
perhaps  a  tendency  to  poetic  licence,  declares  "  Lasted  us  three 
days  a  week,"  Belgarde  has  deserved  well  of  the  master  and  mem- 
bers of  the  Kildare  hunt ;  for  it  is,  in  the  first  place,  close  to  the 
meeting-point,  and  it  thus  enables  the  master  to  show  something 
of  a  fox  chase  to  the  crowds  who  throng  the  Dublin  road,  and  who 
are  quite  satisfied  to  ride  or  drive  homewards  after  viewing  a  scene 
or  two  of  the  first  act.  It  has  produced  good  stout  foxes,  I  believe; 
but  for  my  own  part  I  never  saw  a  satisfactory  run  from  it,  the 


84  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

situation  and  the  crowds  on  the  road  partially  accounting  for  this 
state  of  things.  The  covert  itself — a  mass  of  gorse — is  contained 
within  an  old  deer-park  wall,  very  high,  with  a  gate  for  ingress  and 
egress.  There  is  a  good  deal  of  tillage  on  the  mountain  side  of 
the  gorse,  and  the  occupier  of  the  land  found  the  damage  done 
by  the  incursions  of  light  and  heavy  horsemen  so  great  that  I 
believe  the  idea  was  entertained  of  cutting  down  the  gorse  and 
abandoning  the  stronghold.  A  compromise,  however,  seems  to 
have  been  effected,  the  result  of  which  was  that,  while  the  pack 
were  carefully  exploring  the  furzy  recesses  within  the  walls,  we 
were  drawn  up  in  a  body  outside  in  a  bit  of  plough  with  a  single 
outlet  'for  the  large  mass.  The  fog  is  very  persistent,  lifting  for  a 
moment,  then  dropping  the  curtain  again,  and  figures  at  many 
yards  off  loom  large  and  indistinct,  while  the  horizon  is  bounded 
by  a  single  field.  But  a  whimper,  swelling  into  a  chorus,  is  heard  by 
some,  and  a  rush  is  made  to  the  outlet  in  the  park-wall  which  leads 
into  Dr.  Evory  Kennedy's  lawn.  Over  this  we  gallop,  jumping 
over  another  small  wall ;  then  a  short  check  on  the  Dublin  road 
lets  up  the  fuglemen,  after  which  the  pack  stream  away  at  great 
pace,  never  stopping,  till  in  a  field  by  the  Green  Hills  and  Tim- 
mins  Castle  the  fox  either  gets  to  ground  or  baffles  them  somehow, 
for  the  fact  I  never  ascertained.  However,  this  was  the  conclusion 
of  a  very  short  gallop,  seen  well  by  a  minority,  among  whom  were 
Captain  R.  Mansfield,  the  Hon.  E.  Lawless,  Mr.  Ellis,  the  Messrs. 
Blacker,  General  Irwin,  and  others.  The  distance  was  short ;  but 
fences  were  greasy,  and  the  land  was  far  from  light,  consequently 
grief  was  not  unfrequent ;  and  a  runaway  horse  that  landed  its 
owner  in  a  pit  very  nearly  made  the  burden  of  sorrow  serious,  but 
I  believe  neither  suffered  very  severely  from  the  catastrophe. 

Castle  Bagot,  the  next  draw,  proved  empty;  so  we  trotted  on 
to  some  wild  gorse  patches  near  the  twelfth  lock  on  the  Grand 
Canal;  but  they  were  in  the  same  category  of  blankness;  and, 
turning  westward,  we  trotted  on  along  the  canal  banks  for  a  couple 
of  miles  till  we  reached  a  secluded  little  gorse,  very  young  but  very 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  85 

thick,  which  was  made  in  Sir  Edward  Kennedy's  presidency  by 
the  landlady,  Miss  Gould,  and  known  as  Miss  Gould's  Gorse.  It 
is  a  very  angular,  wedgy  bit  of  covert,  but  foxes  seem  to  love  its 
silence  and  its  isolation ;  and  here  we  found  very  soon  indeed,  and 
in  five  minutes  more  we  are  stampeding  along  a  lane,  off  which  we 
turn  over  a  steep  bank  into  some  grass  fields,  where  hounds  race 
away,  and  horses  are  stretched  to  keep  at  all  anigh  them.  West- 
manstown  is  crossed,  and  the  line  leads  into  the  verge  of  Castle 
Bagot  Land,  where  the  hounds  roll  over  their  quarry,  who  never 
got  a  chance  after  an  extremely  quick  burst,  scent  proving  most 
serving  and  sustained.  A  third  run,  terminated  by  night,  began 
at  Johnstown  Kennedy  and  ended  at  Saggart.  I  forgot  to  say  that 
about  one  o'clock  the  atmosphere,  though  heavy  all  day,  shook  off 
the  fog  clouds. 

This  pack  had  a  very  good  gallop  last  Thursday  (one  of  the 
wettest  days  we  have  had  so  far  in  the  season),  from  Knockrigg 
Gorse,  by  Golden  Fort,  across  the  river  Slaney  to  ground  at  Bally- 
crow  ;  it  was  described  to  me  as  very  fast  indeed,  fairly  straight, 
but  not  well  seen  throughout  by  the  field,  the  country  being  far 
from  easy  or  pleasant  to  cross. 

Yesterday  (Friday)  was  saddened  by  the  accident  which  befell 
Mr.  French,  of  Ardsallagh,  from  a  kicking  horse ;  the  victim 
to-day  was  a  fine  hunter  of  Captain  Wardrop's,  kicked  severely  in 
the  near  fore-arm;  but  really  the  escapes  are  more  surprising, 
perhaps,  than  the  accidents  from  this  cause.  On  the  self-same 
Friday  (and  nearly  at  the  same  hour,  by  a  strange  coincidence) 
that  a  kicker  smashed  poor  Mr.  French's  leg,  Mr.  Filgate,  in 
Louth,  lost  "  Advocate,"  one  of  his  best  hounds,  by  a  kick  from 
a  lady's  horse,  who  had  already  gained  an  evil  renomm'e  for  doing 
mischief  (the  horse  bien  entendu,  of  course). 

Want  of  space  prevented  my  doing  justice  to  Mr.  Filgate's 
week  in  Louth  in  my  last  budget.  Let  me  now  repair  the 
omission  very  briefly.  On  Tuesday  the  meet  was  to  have  been 
Clermont,  but  the  weather  was  so  bad  no  one  came,  so  the 


86  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

hounds,  after  waiting  till  12.30,  returned  to  kennel.  On  Friday 
they  were  at  Beaulieu,  when  they  found  at  once,  and  ran  a  fox 
to  ground;  a  second  ran  a  ring,  and  was  killed  in  finishing  it. 
A  third  turned  up  in  the  same  covert,  and  ran  well  by  Beltrick 
barn  and  Ballydonnel,  round  Newtown  demesne,  and  was  rolled 
over  after  forty-five  minutes.  Newtown  Gorse  held  another,  who 
got  to  ground  very  quickly.  Blackball  produced  a  real  good 
fox,  who,  after  standing  up  for  one  hour  and  forty  minutes  and 
telling  out  the  field,  was  rolled  over;  some  four,  including  the 
master  and  men,  alone  witnessed  the  end.  This  part  of  the 
country  had  been  very  short  of  foxes  for  some  time,  and  it  was 
very  cheering  to  Mr.  Filgate  to  see  so  goodly  a  show  there  to-day. 

On  Saturday,  the  i8th,  while  the  fashion-led  crowds  followed 
the  Kildare  hounds  as  near  as  they  could,  a  select  party  of 
the  Ward  Union  men  had  one  of  their  best  thirty-five  minutes 
towards  Garristown,  and  fifteen  more  in  view,  fast  as  the  fastest 
could  wish  for ;  nor  were  they  incommoded  by  fog  in  the  least — 
a  thin  rain  seems  to  have  taken  its  place. 

Sir  David  Roche's  run  on  the  i7th,  to  which  I  just  alluded 
in  my  last,  is  so  hors  ligne  that  I  must  recur  to  it,  if  only  in 
outline.  The  pack  met  at  Fort  William,  and  found  in  Ballingarry 
Gorse,  which  lies  on  a  hill,  where  the  thin  soil  hardly  held  any 
scent  at  all;  so,  instead  of  hunting,  the  hounds  dragged  slowly 
after  their  fox  as  far  as  Mount  Brown ;  here  a  change  came  o'er 
the  spirit  of  their  waking  dreams.  A  countryman  informs  Sir 
David  that  the  fox  has  just  crossed  the  road,  so  he  holds  on 
the  bitches  without  the  loss  of  an  instant,  and  now  the  valley 
lay  smiling  before  them,  and  with  the  valley  a  fresh  impetus  to 
scent.  Russ  Wood  spreads  out  before  them,  and  all  goes  well 
till  a  cur  dog  comes  on  the  scene,  courses  the  fox,  and  occasions 
a  check  by  a  farmhouse.  Sir  David  now  holds  them  on  over 
some  water  meadows,  hits  off  the  line  happily,  and  never  a  pause 
or  dwell  breaks  the  continuity  of  the  gallop  till  this  gallant  fox  is 
rolled  over  on  the  dressed  ground  in  front  of  Adare  Manor,  Lord 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A,  87 

Dunraven's  park.  The  distance  is  estimated  at  eleven  miles ;  the 
pace  was  very  good.  The  line  led  over  the  cream  of  Limerick. 
Form  your  estimate  of  the  gallop,  gentle  reader,  if  you  have  any 
local  or  topographical  knowledge  to  assist  your  imagination. 

The  heavy  rain  which  robbed  Mr.  Filgate  of  a  field  last 
Tuesday  was  also  felt  in  Galway,  though  perhaps  in  a  lesser  degree. 
The  county  pack  met  at  Derrahiney,  the  residence  of  Colonel 
Featherstonhaugh,  a  true  lover  and  supporter  of  all  sport  in 
which  horses  are  chief  actors,  or,  at  any  rate,  important  acces- 
sories. Foxes  abounded  in  the  home  circuit;  one  was  sent  to 
ground  after  one  hour  and  twenty  minutes;  then  Longford  was 
visited,  and  with  such  success  that  for  two  hours  one  good  fox 
defied  his  enemies,  who  were  hard  at  him  with  rare  scent  for  forty 
minutes.  Night  stopped  the  chase. 

On  Monday,  the  2oth,  the  hunting  programme  for  those 
"  within  the  pale "  consisted  mainly  of  a  brace  of  items — the 
Kildare  hounds  at  Ballymore  Eustace ;  the  Ward  Union  pack  at 
Dunboyne — utnim  horum  mavis  accife,  ardent  or  lukewarm  pursuer ! 
There  will  be  sport  at  both,  take  my  word  for  it  (am  I  not  a 
prophet  after  the  events?).  Lots  of  good  company,  lots  of 
coffee-housing,  any  amount  of  fencing,  and  some  galloping  with 
both.  If  your  stud  is  a  large  one,  and  recruited  from  various 
hunting  grounds  in  Ireland,  and  you  are  wavering  in  your  choice, 
let  the  stud  groom  decide  the  question.  "The  Meteor"  you 
knew  pulled  your  arms  off  on  Saturday,  tried  to  fly  everything, 
and  shrivelled  your  heart  within  you  to  the  size  of  a  dried  pea, 
as  he  just  did  the  few  ragged  banks  you  encountered  with  a 
slight  kick  back.  Well,  the  pastures  round  Dunboyne  are  wide 
enough  for  a  runaway.  There  are  plenty  of  brooks  and  singles, 
and  the  chances  are  he  will  come  to  your  hand  charmingly  when 
he  has  had  his  innings  for  the  first  mile.  Be  it  Dunboyne,  then ; 
the  county  is  very  holding  and  water  sodden,  but  two  days  of 
fine  weather  have  improved  the  going  marvellously. 

The   hour  is    1.15;    the   day   beautiful  for    an    outcome   of 


88  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

November,  and  bright  withal.  The  scene  is  at  Dunboyne,  a 
village  with  a  history,  but  which  at  present  consists  of  a  few 
score  of  houses,  mostly  hovels,  which  are  ranged  in  the  form  of 
an  incomplete  triangle,  conspicuous  among  which  are  one  or 
two  tidy  "  pubs,"  where  the  yards  are  good,  the  provender  sweet, 
and  the  landlords  or  ladies  most  anxious  to  do  their  best  for  the 
hunters  which  the  central  situation  consigns  to  their  tender 
mercies.  I  said  Dunboyne  had  a  past.  In  the  time  of  Henry  VI. 
it  boasted  a  provost,  and  some  men-at-arms ;  but  the  lava 
wave  of  1798  swept  it  with  its  fiery  besom,  and  after  that— -fuit 
Dunboyne.  It  is  said  to  have  been  a  sort  of  Luton  to  Dublin ; 
but,  looking  at  the  straw  thatch  on  the  aforesaid  hovels,  and  the 
general  wretchedness  of  aspect  of  the  place,  I  cannot  think  that 
any  trade  or  manufacture  flourishes  greatly  in  its  vicinity. 

To-day  the  sun  gleams  brightly  upon  ten  or  fifteen  pinks, 
while  about  a  couple  of  score  of  more  sadly  clad  pursuers  and  a 
couple  of  habits  make  up  the  array  of  stag-hunters.  Turning 
through  a  sort  of  excrescence  of  the  triangle,  we  are  presently 
trotting  past  Wood  Park,  till  after  a  brace  of  miles  or  more  are 
covered,  we  begin  to  wonder  where  the  deer  has  received  his 
or  her  liberty.  Presently  we  are  relieved  from  our  suspense, 
for  the  hounds  take  up  the  running  briskly  as  we  pass  Vesington, 
Mr.  Trevor  Hamilton's  residence,  and  the  initial  rhene  is  got 
over  safely  by  all  save  a  heavy  man  on  a  cobby  chestnut,  who 
comes  on  his  head  from  the  steam  not  having  been  accommodated 
to  the  freight.  An  up-bank,  another  single,  and  then  follows  a 
long  check.  The  quarry  don't  see  the  fun  of  making  sport  for 
the  Philistines,  and  she  makes  way  for  No.  2 — the  doe  of 
Enfield,  who,  enlarged  at  Culmullen  last  season,  ran  fast  and 
well  past  Larch  Hill  and  past  Cappagh  till  she  finished  at  the 
well-known  station  and  village,  giving  her  followers  more  than 
twenty  miles  of  road  work  home  that  night.  To-day  she  bounded 
first  over  the  Batterstown  pastures,  ran  the  Ten-mile  Bush  Farm, 
then  brushed  past  the  Poor-House  Gorse  on  her  way  to  Lagore, 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  89 

threaded  the  mazes  of  Mr.  Thunder's  park,  swept  past  Reisk 
Gorse  to  Kilbrew,  where  the  Meath  hounds  were  so  busy  a  few 
days  ago,  and  was  taken  by  Primatestown,  not  quite  half  a  dozen 
witnessing  the  capture,  out  of  a  well-mounted  hard-riding  field, 
of  light  weights  for  the  most  part,  among  them  Captain  Candy, 
Lord  Langford,  and  Lord  F.  Lennox.  Of  the  number  of  stayers 
there  was  Mr.  Trotter,  who,  with  Jem  Brindley,  seems  almost 
inseparable  from  this  pack.  No  one  was  drowned,  though, 
I  believe,  the  master  subsided  into  eight  feet  of  running  water, 
and  a  curious  recital  might  be  made  of  many  moving  accidents 
by  flood  and  field.  I  cannot  give  the  time,  but  the  pace  to 
Lagore  was  fast,  and  the  distance  covered  was  considerable. 

Meanwhile,  Ballymore  Eustace  meet  was  well  attended,  and 
the  first  draw,  Stonebrook  (the  residence  of  a  ci-devant  master  of 
this  pack  and  county  member,  now,  we  regret  to  say,  in  ill  health), 
sent  forth  a  gallant  fox,  who  ran  towards  Dunstown  Wood,  by 
Mr.  Maunder's  lands,  pointing  for  Silliott,  but  was  headed,  then 
turned  into  Harristown  Park  by  Kelly's  Wood,  crossed  the  Liffey, 
and,  holding  his  way  along  the  far  side  bank,  brushed  through  the 
Black  Thorns,  Geogheganstown,  Ardenode,  and  Mullacash ;  then 
recrossed  the  Liffey  and  scratched  himself  into  a  burrow  on  the 
sandy  soil  of  the  Liffey  bank,  and  almost,  I  hear,  in  view.  A 
fine  long  hunting  run,  the  first  part  diversified  by  much  jumping, 
and,  naturally,  a  few  tumbling  feats. 

The  grateful  gorse  patch  (for  'tis  no  more)  of  Eadestown  was 
next  visited,  and  two  foxes  turned  out  of  its  shelter.  Punchestown 
being  up  wind,  the  well-known  scurry  thither  was  not  enacted 
to-day,  the  line  being  hillwards  towards  Elverstown,  then  inclining 
to  the  Downshire ;  then  twisting  to  Lord  Miltown's  Park  of  Russ- 
boro' ;  then  back  towards  the  Downshire,  when  light  began  to 
wane,  and  the  hounds  were  stopped.  His  Royal  Highness  the 
Duke  of  Connaught,  with  Captain  Fitzgerald,  who  had  been 
performing  some  military  function  at  Naas  Depot,  joined  the  pack 
at  Eadestown. 


90  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

On  Tuesday,  the  2ist,  the  Meath  hounds  met  at  Drumree 
station — classic  ground  for  the  followers  of  the  Ward  Union 
fortunes,  as  well  as  those  of  Meath,  for  'tis  the  portal  to  a 
charming  line  of  country,  and  good  gorses  dot  it  at  very  con- 
venient intervals.  Little  wonder,  then,  if  the  meet  was  a  very 
full  one,  and  that  Dublin  mustered  strong  on  the  occasion,  seeing 
tujours  cerf,  like  toujours  perdrix,  may  become  tedious  and  monoto- 
nous— a  very  surfeit  of  good  things.  Kildare,  too,  was  represented 
by  Mr.  Percy  La  louche,  Mr.  Blacker,  and  one  or  two  more  hard- 
riding  sportsmen,  while  among  the  strangers  were  Captain 
Trench  Nugent  (late  master  of  the  Staffordshire),  Captain  and 
the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Lord  Francis  Lennox  (a  visitor  from  the 
King's  County,  who  seemed  particularly  well  mounted  on  a  very 
thick  bay  horse),  Mr.  Morrogh  (on  a  very  clever  Wexford  horse) ; 
and  I  fancy  the  list  would  include  a  few  more.  The  morning  had 
been  hazy  and  inclined  to  fog,  and  the  Dublin  and  Wicklow 
range  loomed  large  and  indistinct  as  one  rode  to  the  trysting 
point  By  eleven  o'clock  the  sky  was  clear  and  the  sun  very 
bright,  and  everything  was  at  its  best.  Culmullen,  the  property  of 
Mr.  Kearney,  and  occupied  last  season  by  poor  Captain  Mont- 
gomery, was  the  first  point  of  investigation.  The  covert  is 
principally  contained  in  a  wedgy-shaped  bit  of  wood  in  front  of 
the  lawn,  and  from  it  two  foxes  issued,  without  much  delay, 
considering  that  this  day  was  probably  their  first  hunting  expe- 
rience ;  one  ran  by  the  back  of  Culmullen  House,  and  was  seen  by 
the  entire  field  loping  across  a  wide  pasture  field  towards  Warrens- 
town.  Whether  headed  or  not,  or  only  frightened,  when  in  mid 
career  he  turned  right  back  as  if  bound  for  Beltrasna  Gorse, 
crossed  a  lane,  down  which  a  couple  of  pursuers  were  riding  very 
leisurely,  and  they  then  got  a  start,  which,  if  scent  had  been  at  all 
availing,  would  have  given  them  the  best  of  the  early  part  of  the 
run  at  any  rate ;  but  scent  did  not  serve  a  bit,  and  in  twenty  or 
twenty-five  minutes  more  the  fox  had  to  be  given  up. 

The  word  Beltrasna  now  caught  the  ear,  and  many  heard  it 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  91 

with  joy,  for  no  fairer  gorse,  or  one  with  better  surroundings, 
ever  harboured  a  flying  fox.      I  don't  know  why  we  were  taken 
a  couple  of  miles  round  by  muddy  lanes  to  it,  as  my  memory 
is  of  a  pleasant  canter  thither,  over  eight  or  ten  grass  fields.     A 
rustic  told  me  of  "  wars,"  by  which  I  gathered  some  farmer  had 
a  prejudice  against  horses  on   his    land.      Let  us  hope  that  as 
Turkey  has  joined   the  Conference,  or  consented  to  a  Confer- 
ence, our  friend,  too,  may  listen  to  the  tender  suasion  of  the 
great   powers   of  hunting.      Beltrasna   Gorse    is    quivering   with 
music,  a   fox  emerges   pointing   for    Mulhussey;   he   is   headed 
back    and   devoured.      A    second   is   on    foot— impetuous  men, 
Lords  and  Commons,  jump  over  one  or   two   fences   popularly 
supposed  to  be  boundaries.      In  vain  the  master  tries  to  stem 
the  torrent.     The  whole  thing  is  suicidal;    scent  is  low,  hounds 
have  to  stoop  for  it,  their  heads  have  been  got  up,  and  hence 
these  tears.     But  the  fox  breaks  at  last;  it  may  be  he  will  take 
us  on    to  Pratt's  Gorse;    two   fields,  three   fields,  and    it  is  all 
over.      To    ground    in    a    bank    seems    the    conclusion,    though 
Goodall  cast  and  cast  away  in  vain.      Kilcarty  is  another  word 
of  good  omen.     Our  way  thither   lies    over  a    splendid  bit   of 
schooling  ground,  which  it  takes  a  hunter  to  cross ;  and  this  bit 
of  the  day  was  really  very  lively,  and  some  of  the  fencing  was 
very  meritorious.     The  Grange,  Mr.  Murphy's  residence,  is  next 
reached,  and  those  who  at  this  stage  felt  the  pangs  of  hunger 
and  thirst  found  an  admirable  system  of  in-door  relief  well  ad- 
ministered here.     We  were  now  on  our  road  to  Kilcarty  Gorse, 
one  of  the  most  celebrated  in  Meath,  but  it  did  not  hold  to-day, 
and  the  evening  hours  were  occupied  in  dragging   slowly  after 
a  straight,  bold   fox,  who   jumped  up  from   the   Hill  of  Glane, 
passed  through  Dunsany  without  dwelling  or  hanging  about  its 
inviting    woodlands,    having    also    passed    through    Swainstown 
equally   sharply,  then  held  on   for  Tara,   and  was   given  up  at 
Rigglestown,    not   far   from    Lismullen,    where    I    think   he  was 
marked  to  ground.     A  fine  line,  and  containing  material  for  a 
splendid  run  had  scent  been  in  the  ascendant  at  all. 


92  HIBERNIA   VENAT1CA. 

Those  who  selected  Sallins  (the  Kildare  meeting-point)  in 
preference  to  Drumree,  had  by  odds  the  best  of  it  to-day,  as  the 
following  outline  will  show.  Osbertown  Gorse,  equi-distant  from 
Sallins  and  Naas,  was  the  first  covert  visited,  and  its  size  and 
thickness  made  it  very  hard  to  disturb  a  fox.  When  he  was 
ejected  he  ran  for  a  few  fields  to  the  Liffey,  and  crossed  its 
waters  at  Carragh  Bridge,  and  was  run  into  at,  or  rather  near, 
Yeomanstown  House.  Some  wild  gorse  on  the  land  of  Gingers- 
town,  which  is  not  regularly  enclosed  or  formed  into  a  covert, 
but  which  has  recently  been  much  haunted  by  foxes,  was  next 
run  through,  and  from  it  issued  a  good  wild  fox,  who,  starting 
at  score,  led  the  field  at  great  pace  for  some  twenty-five  minutes, 
till  he  was  fain  to  take  shelter  in  the  ruins  of  the  conservatories  of 
Donore,  a  fine  pile  erected  by  the  Speaker  of  the  Irish  House 
of  Commons,  De  Burgh.  Landenstown  did  not  hold ;  so  a 
move  was  made  to  Bella  Villa,  another  huge  gorse,  and  from 
it  a  fox  was  ejected,  not  without  the  expenditure  of  much  time 
and  patience.  His  course  lay  through  Longtown  demesne  land, 
across  the  commons  of  Lockanure,  through  Ballinagapha,  over 
the  Betaghstown  road,  through  Mount  Armstrong  Covert,  into 
the  willow  bed  at  Donadea,  where,  owing  to  the  lateness  of  the 
hour,  pursuit  was  abandoned.  A  reference  to  the  map  will  show 
how  straight  the  fox  ran.  From  point  to  point  the  distance  exceeds 
six  miles. 

On  Wednesday  the  foxes  in  Kildare  and  Meath  had  the  benefit 
of  a  brief  armistice;  while  the  stag  was  enlarged  for  the  benefit 
of  the  Philistines,  who  mustered  in  fair  force  at  the  Black  Bull. 
Three  rainless  days  had  done  much  for  the  going  of  this  flat  country, 
and  the  swollen  brooks  had  become  contracted  to  their  normal 
bounds.  Trotting  along  that  now  familiar  road  towards  the  Fairy 
House  for  a  mile  or  two,  the  hounds  were  put  on  in  a  field 
which  I  fancy  made  part  of  the  old  racecourse,  and  the  head 
they  carried  showed  at  once  that  scent  was  warm  to-day.  Men, 
too,  seemed  very  full  of  ride  and  jump,  for  the  first  fence — a 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  93 

brook  covered  over  with  a  tangle  of  bush  and  briar — was  not 
absolutely  necessary  to  jump,  but  most  went  at  it  with  a  will,  and, 
strange  enough,  all  I  think  got  over  nicely.  We  are  now  by  the 
farmhouse  of  Porterstown,  and  our  deer  turns  sharp  to  the  right, 
taking  us  over  a  succession  of  large  fences,  and  a  loose  horse 
or  two  become  visible  in  consequence.  Across  Batterstown  and 
the  terrible  Ten-mile  Bush  Farm,  and  on  to  the  Navan  line ;  then 
a  view,  and  the  road  crossed  not  far  from  the  parsonage,  the 
line  leads  on  once  more  past  the  Fairy  House,  Harbourstown, 
past  Ashbourne,  and  into  darkness,  the  deer  having  fairly  gained 
her,  or  his,  liberty  for  the  time  being.  After  crossing  the  Batters- 
town  road,  and  going  for  a  mile  or  so,  till  peradventure  you  found 
that  your  hunter  was  lobbing  along  instead  of  galloping,  and  just 
doing  the  fences  and  no  more  (experto  crede),  perhaps  it  were  well 
to  pull  up  before  the  inevitable  fall  comes ;  and  as  there  is  no 
chance  of  catching  the  pack,  for  they  are  running  up-wind,  we 
may  survey  the  scene  from  a  hilly  coign  of  vantage.  Close  by 
is  a  gallant  officer,  well  known  between  the  flags,  emerging 
from  a  wet  ditch,  while  several  of  the  fields  are  decorated  with 
the  figure  of  a  solitary  horseman  (not  in  a  cloak,  as  G.  P.  R. 
James  used  to  put  him)  who  had  found  his  ultima  Thule  either 
in.  the  pasture  or  its  boundary.  The  peculiar  feature  of  this  grand 
gallop  was  that  the  deer  were  changed,  on  dit,  twice,  but  most 
probably  only  once,  as  two  or  three  hounds,  sticking  to  their 
original  quarry,  hunted  one  deer  by  the  village  of  Dunshaughlin, 
while  the  main  body  hunted  a  fresh  one  that  started  off  in  front 
of  them  as  they  were  passing  by  the  Fairy  House.  Finis  coronat 
opus,  and  I  hear  there  was  no  finish  to  this  chase  to  decide  the 
vexed  questions  of  who  rode  straightest,  who  stayed  longest,  whose 
horse  was  freshest  coming  home.  Some  were  caught  as  in  a  trap 
in  that  celebrated  Ten-mile  Bush  Farm ;  some  were  not  on  their 
brook  jumpers ;  some  nicked  in.  But,  as  the  Laureate  tells  us, 
"  We're  all  of  us  tailors  in  turn ; "  and  no  horse  could  be  con- 
demned for  not  living  the  entire  distance  at  the  great  pace  if  his 


94  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

burden  exceeded  izst.  Among  those  whom  I  heard  of  as  going 
very  well  was  Mr.  Hartigan,  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards. 

The  fact  of  changing  deer  must  not  lead  any  ingenious  youth 
to  fancy  deer  are  ferce  naturae  in  Ireland.  There  are  a  few  still  in 
the  south  and  west,  but  in  the  shires  they  are  not  found,  and  the 
Celtic  deer-hound  is  mostly  seen  on  memorial  brasses,  tablets, 
ancient  sculptures,  or  their  revivals  on  canvas.  These  deer  were 
of  the  Ashbourne  Park,  and  having  on  different  occasions  baffled 
the  pack  while  light  lasted,  they  had  thus  roamed  about  in  freedom 
ever  since. 

On  Thursday  the  scene  shifts  to  the  woodlands  of  Somerville 
(Lord  Athlumley's  extensive  park),  where  .wood  and  water  and 
undulating  grounds  crowned  by  a  handsome  modern  house  made 
a  fair  framework  for  the  hunting  scenes  enacted  here  to-day  : 

"  Si  canimus  sylvas  sylvae  sint  consule  dignae  ; " 

"  We'll  sing  the  woods — if  they  but  hold 
A  stout  old  fox,  straight-neck'd  and  bold  ;  " 

nor  was  such  a  dramatis  persona  wanting  to-day,  as  the  result  will 
show.  The  forenoon  was  dark,  and  lowering,  and  cold.  Tons  of 
snow,  sleet,  or  rain  seemed  about  to  fall  on  the  earth  ; 
but  a  ten-knot  breeze  from  the  east  swept  over  the  earth,  and 
kept  off  the  shower  or  snow  bath  for  some  hours.  Meanwhile 
the  roads  were  dry  and  crisp,  the  going  good,  if  just  a  little 
sticky  and  holding,  and  the  surrounding  landscape — surveying  it 
in  a  hunting  point  of  view — was,  so  far  as  the  aforesaid  leaden 
clouds  permitted,  a  survey  of  the  most  inviting  character  and 
aspect  After  leaving  Batterstown,  Drumree,  and  Kilmessan, 
Meath  wears  a  somewhat  altered  face.  Perhaps  the  pastures  are 
not  so  vividly  green,  the  grass  so  rich  or  succulent,  but  on  the 
other  hand,  wider  expanses  of  wild  country  meet  the  eye.  Hills 
such  as  Screen,  Tara,  Kilbrew,  and  Kilmoon  diversify  the  rolling 
plains  of  grass,  while  rivers  of  rapider  current  drain  the  lands  and 
keep  water  wheels  busy. 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  95 

The  meet  is  an  enormous  one.  I  did  not  count  the  carriages, 
but  their  number  was  great,  and  all  seemed  full  !  In  the  words  of 
Ireland's  poet  par  excellence — Moore — it  was  a  case  of 

"To  ladies'  eyes  a  round,  boys  !  we  can't  refuse,  we  can't  refuse  ! 
When  bright  eyes  so  abound,  boys,  'tis  hard  to  choose,  'tis  hard  to  choose." 

I  will  be  more  discreet  than  Paris,  for  I  will  not  hand  the  apple  to 
any  one,  and  will  soberly  say  (mindful  of  your  columns)  that  the 
scene  was  of  the  gayest  and  fairest ;  but  for  nearly  an  hour  His 
Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught,  who,  I  think,  had  nearly 
as  much  to  do  with  the  array  of  beauty  as  fox-hunting  and  fine 
scenery,  did  not  show  on  the  scene,  for  he  had  railed  as  far  as 
Drumree  Station,  and  hacked  on  for  the  rest  of  the  journey,  as 
the  train  was  late.  But  wildfowl  are  glancing  about  in  hundreds, 
the  hounds  are  rattling  the  large  woods,  men  are  galloping  about 
in  all  directions.  At  last,  and  after  much  bullying,  our  fox 
emerges  into  the  open,  crossing  the  road  by  the  Kingston  National 
School-house.  The  hounds  carry  a  fine  head,  but  in  half  a  mile 
he  is  back  again,  and  safely  ensconced  in  a  drain  near  the  house. 
This  half  mile,  with  one  or  two  large  water  jumps,  has  given 
wet  compresses  to  more  than  one  pursuer,  amongst  others  to 
Captain  Maurice  Fitzgerald,  the  Duke's  equerry,  whose  good- 
looking  four-year-old  has  jumped  just  a  little  bit  short  (the 
Royal  party  have  now  joined  the  cavalcade).  There  is  a 
pause  near  the  Somerville  stables,  while  the  hounds  are  enacting 
the  part  of  sewerage  inspectors;  carriages  and  horsemen  and  all 
now  for  a  short  space  stand  at  ease.  Did  time  permit,  I  would 
endeavour  to  depict  the  scene  and  its  chief  elements.  For  two 
prominent  figures  in  the  array  I  must  crave  a  line  or  two  of 
room,  or  rather  room  for  a  line  or  two.  Colonel  C.  Fraser,  V.C., 
spite  of  a  very  recently  broken  collar-bone,  has  not  invalided,  and 
his  phaeton,  his  chestnuts,  and  his  own  Thibetian  costume  of  camel 
or  goat's  hair  stand  out  very  prominently.  The  other  very  notice- 
able man  is  the  Squire  of  Bellinter,  Mr.  J.  J.  Preston,  mounted  on 


96  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

a  grand  grey  horse  that  any  Arab  sheik  of  the  desert  might  envy 
(he  is — rare  thing — a  strikingly  handsome  charger,  and  yet  a  perfect 
hunter),  wearing  the  uniform  of  his  own  hunt,  red  and  green 
collar.  By  the  way,  his  harriers  had  two  exceptionally  straight 
and  good  gallops  yesterday,  killing  their  first  hare,  and  whipping 
off  from  the  second  at  dusk. 

I  must  now  dismiss  this  part  of  the  subject  with  the  observa- 
tion that  Somerville  probably  never  saw  so  large  and  fashionable 
a  meet;  that  Louth  was  there  in  great  force,  Kildare,  Galway, 
Dublin,  and  Westmeath  being  not  unrepresented,  while  among  the 
visitors  from  your  side  of  the  ditch  were  Captain  Candy,  Captain 
Trench  Nugent,  and  Lord  F.  Lennox.  Having  lost  our  first  fox, 
we  are  now  looking  for  a  second  in  Walshe's  Gorse,  a  fine  strong- 
hold, flanked  by  a  fir  plantation.  Not  till  the  remotest  corner  was 
gained  did  I  hear  a  whimper.  Then  the  jam  !  the  gates  !  the 
scurrying  !  I  see  on  my  right  Mr.  Rothwell,  on  a  clever  old  grey, 
charging  a  large  quickset  hedge  to  get  clear  from  the  crowd,  and 
successfully.  We  are  now  on  the  edge  of  a  brook,  and  near  a 
mill — the  hounds  to  our  right,  in  a  plantation ;  presently  they 
emerge,  we  cross  a  small  fence,  and  then  for  about  a  couple 
of  miles  or  less  the  pack  race  across  green  fields,  divided  by  some 
three  or  four  fences  only,  till  we  are  opposite  a  picturesque  castel- 
lated old  house,  the  property  of  Mr.  De  Gernon,  to  whose  careful 
preservation,  I  hear,  fox-hunting  in  this  neighbourhood  is  much 
indebted.  A  small  spinney,  with  a  well-known  earth,  runs  from 
it,  with  brooks  all  round  apparently,  and  no  escape  if  we  mean 
to  pursue.  Through  it  the  hounds  stream,  and  again  we  are 
galloping  best  pace  over  lands  which  remind  me  strongly  of  the 
Severn  Valley,  near  Thornbury.  Mr.  Kearsley  is  leading  us ;  an 
embankment  shuts  out  a  brook  in  our  path  ;  his  horse,  a  very 
hunting-like  chestnut,  has  to  do  it  at  a  stand,  and  just  gets  over 
with  a  scramble.  Lord  Clanmorris  has  it  next,  and,  putting  on 
lots  of  steam,  lands  well  in  the  next  field.  Mr.  Hone,  Mr.  Chad- 
wick,  and  Mr.  Tiernan's  horses  jumped  it  beautifully,  although  it 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  97 

was  nothing  when  once  you  were  over ;  but  we  are  galloping  on 
again;  a  flock  of  sheep  foil  us  much  in  two  fields  more.  It  is 
a  cold  drag  by  Bessborough,  where  I  hear  our  fox  got  to  ground  : 
all  clue  is  gone.  Slater's  Gorse,  a  couple  of  miles  distant,  sur- 
rounded by  grand  reaches  of  wild  grass  land,  is  worth  the  journey 
to  see.  It  held  a  fox,  but  its  tenant  got  chopped — our  hopes 
dashed.  Of  the  remainder  of  the  day  I  cannot  speak  from  obser- 
vation, as  my  hunter  had  to  carry  me  many  a  mile  homewards. 
Miss  Gradwell's  grey  cob  was  jumping  beautifully  all  through ; 
and  no  one  seemed  to  enjoy  hunting  more  than  Miss  Smith  on 
a  neat  grey  pony. 

I  hear  the  Tipperary  hounds  had  a  good  hunting  run  on  the 
2ist,  when  they  met  at  Rochestown,  and  had  a  ring  from  Ardfinnan 
Castle  to  begin  with,  followed  by  a  quick  find  in  Kilmalogue, 
a  sharp  scurry  over  Logher  pastures,  across  the  Clonmell  road, 
and  into  the  lands  of  Magnistown.  Three  ladies  led  the  way  all 
through,  I  hear ;  no  bank  too  high,  too  furzy,  or  too  trappy  for 
their  light  hands  and  clever  hunters. 

P.S. — Having  trenched  already,  I  fear,  on  your  columnar  space, 
I  regret  that  I  can  only  treat,  or  illtreat,  some  splendid  sport — the 
outcome  of  the  last  ten  days  or  so— in  a  succinct  and  epitomising 
style. 

Thus,  on  Thursday  the  Kildare  hounds  met  at  Narraghmore 
Court  House,  and  began  very  well  with  a  fox  from  the  neighbour- 
ing wood,  who  was  heading  for  Martinstown,  till  a  long  check  in 
a  bit  of  plough  marred  it.  Turning  to  Nine-tree  Hill,  where  foxes 
seemed  to  abound,  one  was  hunted  via  Crookstown  to  a  point 
between  Morne  and  Ballitore.  From  Spratstown  Gorse  a  fox  took 
them  to  the  Monte  Diavolo,  through  Ballynure,  and  back  to  the 
same  hill  of  Shitan. 

On  Saturday,  from  Cullen's  Gorse,  a  fine  stout  fox  took  them 
via  Windgate  Hill  to  Lara,  thence  to  Courtown,  Taghadoe,  Rath- 
coffey,  and  Irishtown ;  the  first  thirty  minutes  very  fast  and  good, 

H 


98  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

as  we  learnt  from  the  only  three  men  who  saw  the  run  fairly 
well — the  Baron  de  Robeck,  Mr.  Chapman,  and  the  Hon.  Major 
Lawless ;  the  field  an  enormous  one. 

Of  the  earlier  events  on  the  23rd  in  Meath  I  have  given  your 
readers  a  sketch.  Having  a  long  distance  to  ride  home,  I  left  them 
at  Slater's  Gorse  eating  the  third  fox  of  the  day.  Another  was 
unfortunately  chopped  there;  the  third  from  this  splendid  gorse 
succumbed  in  the  open  after  a  fair  gallop  through  Somerville,  and 
thence  towards  Corballis. 

On  the  24th  they  had  runs,  but  nothing  noteworthy,  from 
Faughanhill  Gorse,  from  Allenstown,  and  a  third  from  Gilltown 
into  Drewstown;  and  on  Saturday,  the  25th,  they  had  a  straight 
eight-mile  run  (as  measured  on  the  map  from  point  to  point)  from 
Rosmead  into  Killua,  thence  to  Miltown,  and  by  Belgeith  into 
Balrath,  where  their  fox  got  to  ground ;  one  hour  and  ten  minutes. 
In  Wexford,  where  Mr.  Beatty,  the  master,  so  long  and  success- 
fully held  the  horn,  but  at  length  resigned  it  at  the  beginning 
of  this  season,  the  sport  has  been  fair,  foxes  plentiful,  but  as  yet 
nothing  of  great  brilliancy  has  occurred.  A  good  thirty  minutes 
from  Courtnacuddy  Plantations  over  Moneybore  Hill,  by  Scobie 
to  the  Bridge  of  Kiltrea,  where  the  dog  pack  pulled  down  their 
quarry,  was  perhaps  the  best  of  recent  things. 

In  Kilkenny  Colonel  Chaplin  has  had  rare  good  scent  to  hunt 
the  proverbially  stout  foxes  of  his  territory.  Forty-five  minutes 
from  Summerhill  on  Monday  last,  to  Mr.  Bryant's  Gorse.  (A  capital 
ball  at  the  Athenaeum  in  the  evening.) 

On  Wednesday  a  good  fox  from  Kiltornan  ran  two  wide  rings 
very  fast,  and,  after  standing  up  for  two  hours  and  thirty-five 
minutes,  his  life  was  spared  at  the  intercession  of  the  field.  A 
visitor,  Mr.  Hamilton  Stubber,  master  of  the  Queen's  County 
hounds,  and  Major  Bunbury,  were  in  the  front  rank  all  through. 

On  Friday,  finding  in  "  The  Rock,"  they  ran  to  Woodsgift,  on 
to  Tallyho  (this  savours  of  the  Pytchley  country),  towards  Killeen, 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  99 

and  ended  in  semi-darkness  at  Knockloe ;  Shiner,  the  winner  of 
the  Kildare  red-coat  race,  carrying  the  master  to  perfection. 

I  referred  to  Mr  *Filgate's  ill-luck  in  losing  Advocate  by  a  kick 
from  a  lady's  horse  last  week.  This  week  Duster,  a  third-season 
hound — the  oracle  of  the  pack — was  ridden  over  and  killed. 
A  ring  of  fifty  minutes  from  Mallabone,  and  a  good  thirty  minutes 
from  Stephenstown  into  Dundalk,  were  the  best  things  of  the 
week  in  Louth,  to  which  I  must  refer  in  my  next. 

On  Monday,  the  2;th,  the  Meath  hounds  visited  the  neighbour- 
hood of  the  metropolis  (Dublin),  and  the  metropolis  showed  its 
appreciation  of  the  honour  by  turning  out  en  masse  to  see  them. 
The   day  was   clear,    dry,    and   bright.      The   opening  scene   at 
Abbotstown,  the  residence  of  one  of  the  members  for  the  county 
Dublin,   Mr.   Ion  Trant-Hamilton,  was  picturesque  and  brilliant 
in  the   extreme;   while    "society"   made   a  point   of  putting  in 
an  appearance  and  attending  the  improvised  farewell  levee  and 
drawing-room  (for  really  it  was  nothing  less)  of  his  grace  the  Duke 
of  Abercorn,  who,  as  everybody  knows  and  everybody  regrets, 
is  relinquishing  the  Viceroyalty  of  Ireland,  an  office  which  is  apt 
to  sink  and  rise  in  popular  estimation  according  to  the  personal 
character  and   dignity   of  its   occupant.     Needless   to   say  here 
that  in  his  grace's  hands  the  Court  of  Dublin  suffered  no  diminu- 
tion  in   splendour   or   prestige,    or  that   the  sword  of  state  was 
right  worthily  and  majestically  borne.     His  grace  did  not  hunt, 
save  vicariously;  his  son,  Lord  Ernest  Hamilton,  having  entered 
very  well  to  hounds,  and  his  staff  being  among  the  hardest  of  the 
hard.     Lady  Georgina  Hamilton  attended  the  meet  near  Dublin, 
and  was  out  to-day,  piloted  by  Colonel  Forster,  master  of  the  horse. 
As  a  cricketer  and  rifleman  the  duke's  name  is  well  known  to 
readers  of  The  Field.     A  capital  ring  in  the  evening  from  Kilrue 
Gorse   was  the   most  noticeable  thing  in  the  day's  proceedings, 
to  which  I  shall  allude  again. 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 


VIII. 

!  There  lived — I  do  not  deal  in  dates — 

A  champion  of  the  heavy-weights, 
Who  o'er  Kildare  and  Meath  has  done 
Great  things,  in  spite  of  sixteen  stone. " 


Mr.    Chapman  and  the  run   from   Cullen's   Gorse — Abbotstown — Cork   and 
Limerick — Kilteel  and  "  Snow-Storm. " 


BY  one  of  those  ingenious  fictions  which,  perhaps,  owe  their  origin 
to  the  fact  of  the  framers  of  our  systems  of  law  and  divinity  having 
been  casuists  of  the  first  force,  a  bishop  is  supposed  to  say  nolo 
episcopari,  or  words  to  that  effect,  before  he  is  inducted  to  his  see. 
Fancy  a  hard-working  man,  with  a  large  family,  who  has  known 
and  tasted  for  years  the  pleasures  of  parochialism  and  poverty, 
while  the  parent  tree  has  been  absolutely  weighed  down  by  the 
number  of  fruit-bearing  branches — fancy  such  a  man,  full  of 
brains,  full  of  organization,  full  of  ambition,  saying  with  real 
intent  nolo  episcopari.  The  office  of  master  of  a  crack  pack  of 
subscription  hounds,  in  these  censorious  and  extravagant  days, 
is  open  to  far  more  hesitation  and  doubt  The  vista  of  difficulties, 
diplomatic  imbroglios,  social  pit-falls,  failures  imminent  from  a 
thousand  unforeseen  chances ;  the  utter  impossibility  of  pleasing 
the  ever-contending  factions  of  laudatores  temporis  acti  and  the 
rash  innovators  of  the  fast-galloping  school;  the  unjust  criticism 
which  perverts  prudence  into  cowardice,  discretion  into  want  of 
zeal,  Fabian  tactics  into  hesitating  imbecility — all  these  Scyllas 
and  Charybdises,  and  a  thousand  more  too  numerous  to  write 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  101 

down  here,  are  enough,  in  the  language  of  the  poet,  to  appal  the 
bad,  afflict  the  best.  J^olo  esse  M.F.H.  is  the  true  burden  of  most 
men  whose  birth,  means,  and  county  position  would  entitle  them 
naturally  to  aspire  to  the  dubious  honour,  if  they  have  been  behind 
the  scenes,  and  learnt  something  of  the  hard  work,  energy,  tact, 
and  brains  (and  even  this  combination  is  powerless  against  ill-luck) 
which  a  tolerably  successful  mastership  involves.  Fortunately  for 
fox-hunting,  Curtii  are  found  ready  to  leap  in  full  armour  into  the 
yawning  gulf.  The  labour  we  delight  in  physics  pain.  The 
position  has  so  many  attractions  to  countervail  the  crop  of 
anxiety,  worry,  and  grumblings  which  each  season  germinates, 
that  in  England  or  Ireland  a  pack  of  fox-hounds  rarely  remains 
masterless  for  any  length  of  time.  The  words  of  that  old  sea 
song — 

"  How  proud  must  be  our  Admiral,  though  he  is  pale  to-day, 
Of  twice  five  hundred  iron  men  who  all  his  nod  obey" — 

keep  dinning  themselves  into  my  memory  when  I  think  of  the 
power  and  dominion  wielded  by  an  M.F.H.,  his  social  influence, 
his  autocracy  in  all  matters  connected  with  the  county  sport,  his 
hegemony  among  the  legions  of  the  rank  and  file  of  men  whom 
hunting  enlists  as  its  ministers  and  acolytes.  The  glamour  of  the 
position  is  great,  and  the  halo  which  encircles  venatic  successes 
is  lit  up  with  prismatic  brilliancy. 

These  reflections  are  suggested  by  the  fact  that  at  the  end 
of  the  present  season  Kildare  will  be  masterless.  What  I 
announced  as  a  rumour  has  ripened  into  fact.  Mr.  Mans- 
field is  not  a  Quaker,  but  his  yea  is  yea,  and  his  nay  nay,  and 
he  has  said  the  latter  with  emphasis  and  decision.  When  Sir 
Edward  Kennedy  (to  whose  presidency  Kildare  is  immensely 
indebted,  in  the  kennel  department  especially)  resigned  the  horn 
some  seasons  ago,  the  county  was  masterless,  kennelless,  and,  so 
far  as  hunting  went,  homeless.  Backed  by  the  unanimous  support 
of  the  members  of  the  hunt,  Mr.  Mansfield  has  organized  the 


102  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

commencement  of  a  permanent,  not  a  peripatetic  system,  changing 
with  each  master — permanent  kennels  near  Naas,  with  houses  for 
the  staff,  to  which  stables  will,  I  believe,  be  very  soon  added. 
His  dictatorship  has  been  eminently  successful,  and  general  regret 
is  felt  that  he  should  give  up  a  position  which  he  has  filled  very 
ably  and  satisfactorily.  I  recollect  writing,  when  the  office  was  in 
commission  so  to  speak,  that  I  was  reminded  of  the  imperial 
succession  as  depicted  in  Tacitus's  terse  and  graphic  language, 
that  one,  perhaps  more  than  one,  of  the  aspirants  to  the  honour 
was  avidus  sed  impar,  another  capax  sed  aspernans.  It  cannot  be 
said  of  Mr.  Mansfield,  in  the  words  of  that  historian,  that  universal 
consent  would  have  proclaimed  him  the  fittest  man  for  the  post 
had  he  never  actually  filled  it,  for  he  has  filled  it,  and  public 
opinion  is  justified. 

One  of  his  great  successes  dates  from  Saturday,  the  25th,  to 
which  I  could  only  allude  cursorily  in  my  last  letter,  from  the 
want  of  time  and  space  at  command.  The  Kildare  hounds  met 
at  the  Hazelhatch  and  Celbridge  station  of  the  Great  Southern 
and  Western  Railway.  Now  a  certain  amount  of  uncertainty  hung 
about  this  meet  in  the  minds  of  men.  The  station  is  a  mile  or  so 
from  the  town  of  Celbridge,  and  precedent  generally  brings  the 
pack  into  the  main  street  of  Celbridge  from  the  station.  Many 
came  to  the  tryst  from  afar — from  Meath,  Westmeath,  and  its 
confines,  for  instance ;  and  though  a  mile  there  and  back  is  not 
much  for  a  hunter,  yet  no  one  wishes  to  add  this  distance  to  the 
sum  total  of  what  may  be  a  very  long  day  even  in  mileage.  It 
was  very  possible,  if  not  probable,  that  Mr.  Mansfield  would 
cross  the  line  and  try  some  of  the  trans-rail  coverts,  such  for 
instance  as  Boston,  Cullens  Wood,  and  Pigeon  Hill;  so  most 
people  did  the  right  thing,  and  went  to  the  meet  instead  of 
awaiting  the  pack  at  Celbridge.  A  drizzling,  heavy,  overcast  day, 
inclined  to  fog,  it  was  not  an  inviting  atmosphere  for  the  butter- 
fly element,  nor  were  carriages  in  such  great  force  as  I  have  seen 
them.  On  the  other  hand,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Adair  had  come  all  the 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  103 

way  from  the  Queen's  County.  The  Ladies  Fitzgerald  and  Lady 
Annette  La  Touche  were  Aiding,  and  so  were  Mrs.  Langrishe, 
Mrs.  Morris,  and  a  few  more.  His  Royal  Highness  the  Duke 
of  Connaught  honoured  the  meet,  attended  by  his  equerry, 
Captain  Maurice  Fitzgerald  (on  a  confidential  roan  from  Mr. 
Kearsley's  school).  Mr.  A.  Macniel,  Captain  Tuthill,  Mr. 
Chapman,  and  a  few  more  represented  Meath;  Colonel  Forster 
and  the  officers  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards  and  Inniskillings  came 
from  Dublin ;  while  of  the  absentees  for  the  earlier  part  of  the 
season,  the  most  conspicuous  (and  not  the  least  warmly  welcomed) 
was  the  Earl  of  Clonmell,  on  his  old  favourite,  Tipperary  Boy, 
with  the  shapely  Courtown  for  second  horse.  Mr.  Mansfield  soon 
resolved  our  doubts  by  the  mot  d'ordre  "  Cullen's  Gorse."  This 
set  the  cavalcade  trotting  on  for  a  couple  of  miles,  till  the  riders, 
some  200  strong,  were  jammed  into  a  laneway  with  only  one 
apparent  exodus.  The  hounds  are  in  the  gorse  in  front  of  us ; 
but  almost  before  we  can  think  of  tightening  girth  or  hardening 
heart,  or  abandoning  an  interesting  conversation,  the  crowd  is  in 
motion,  every  one  pressing  to  the  corner  gap.  A  scramble — a 
jump — and  lucky  those  who  emerged  quickly.  A  few  at  the 
tail  of  the  queue  take  a  biggish  fence,  and  thus  get  on  fair  terms 
with  the  leaders ;  for  the  majority  a  stern  chase  is  inevitable. 
For  five  or  six  fields,  with  not  more  than  three  fences,  it  is 
racing  pace,  specially  for  the  bad  beginners.  Then  a  road  is 
reached,  and  the  track  is  nearly  identical  with  that  of  the  last 
time  the  hounds  drew  the  gorse  (the  Maynooth  day),  and  we 
may  not  unwarrantably  presume  that  we  are  hunting  the  very 
same  fox  we  lost  on  that  day.  A  few  more  fields  bring  us  to 
the  top  of  Windgate  Hill,  and  then  there  is  a  pause  of  a  few 
moments.  Then  the  broad  red  and  black  line  jumps  out  of  a 
road;  some  are  confronted  by  a  bank,  others  by  newish  palings, 
which  all  do  not  get  over  very  successfully.  Two  fields  after 
this,  the  track  brought  one  to  a  very  wide  ditch  and  bank,  while 
in  the  best  part  of  it  a  chestnut  horse  was  engulfed,  barring 


io4  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

progress — his  owner,  one  of  the  hardest  men  in  Kildare,  standing 
over  him  in  hopeless  disappointment  Now  this  place  was,  I  may 
say,  the  key  to  the  whole  position ;  four  men  charged  it  manfully — 
Major  the  Hon.  E.  Lawless,  the  Baron  de  Robeck,  Mr.  Chapman, 
and  Mr.  Blacker ;  the  latter  was  the  victim — the  other  three  alone 
saw  the  cream  of  the  run ;  and,  of  the  trio,  Mr.  Chapman,  who 
cannot  be  much  under  i6st.,  saw  it  at  the  nearest  distance,  for, 
sooth  to  say,  the  hounds  had  much  the  best  of  it.  I  should  have 
stated,  for  the  benefit  of  your  general  readers  who  do  not  know 
Kildare  thoroughly,  that  the  country  we  were  riding  over  to-day  is 
on  the  borders  of  Meath — rich  pasture  land  like  Meath,  very 
flat,  and  fenced  by  deep  and  wide  ditches,  occasionally  margined 
by  a  bank,  and  intersected  by  brooks  and  deep  cuttings.  The 
country  is  very  featureless,  one  pasture  much  resembling  another, 
one  fence  its  predecessor.  Hence,  as  the  day  was  extremely 
hazy,  nothing  was  easier  than  for  those  who  were  toiling  behind 
fruitlessly,  and  attempted  independent  lines,  to  miss  their  way  and 
come  to  hopeless  grief.  To  return  to  the  three — there  is  something 
mystical  and  magical  in  the  number ; — after  jumping  into  a  cross- 
road, their  track  lay  past  Taghadoe,  with  its  ruined  tower  and 
church ;  past  Lady  Chapel,  right  across  one  of  those  huge  cuttings 
I  alluded  to,  and  so  on  to  Lara  Covert.  Here  there  was  some 
little  delay,  though  not  sufficient  to  let  up  the  field,  and  on 
the  course  lay  between  Kilcock  and  Courtown,  the  fox  pointing 
as  if  he  meant  to  seek  his  rest  in  Ballycaghan  or  Cappagh  Corses  ; 
presently,  however,  he  turns  to  the  left,  and  enters  Courtown 
demesne  lands,  and  here  a  view  is  gained.  Mr.  Chapman,  up 
to  Courtown,  had  gained  first  honours— fact'/e  princeps,  and  never 
was  diploma  of  merit  better  earned;  for,  conceding  something 
to  luck  in  getting  a  start  away  from  "the  madding  crowd," 
something  to  topographical  knowledge,  it  is  no  small  praise  for 
such  a  heavy  weight  to  have  almost  distanced  an  enormous  field 
over  a  big  line  and  land  holding  enough  in  places.  At  Courtown, 
I  was  told,  though  I  vouch  not  for  the  authority,  that  foxes  were 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  105 

changed,  and  that  a  fresh  fox  led  a  small  but  considerably  in- 
creased field  (the  tributary  roads  were  now  swelling  the  flood), 
once  more  by  Lara,  on  by  Tbolloughstown,  thence  to  Taghadoe, 
and  so  on  by  the  swampy  fields  of  Rathcoffey  into  Irishtown, 
and  on  to  Major  Barton's  home  farm,  where  scent  died  away; 
and  as  all  now,  whether  they  were  with  the  hounds,  or  questing 
after  them,  or  scurrying  about  the  country  for  tidings  of  the 
missing  pack,  had  had  galloping  and  fencing  enough  in  the  two 
hours  and  fifteen  minutes  of  this  long  pursuit,  there  was  a 
general  dispersion,  to  which  I  think  the  certainty  of  finding 
luncheon  and  everything  that  hungry  hunter  can  desire  at 
Straffan  House,  or  Lodge  Park  contributed  not  a  little.  There 
was  a  great  deal  of  grief  in  this  run,  but,  fortunately,  nothing 
of  a  very  serious  type,  Captain  Fitzgerald,  the  Duke  of  Con- 
naught's  equerry,  getting  as  heavy  a  fall  as  most  out.  The  first 
part  of  the  race  up  to  Lara  was  extremely  fast  and  good,  and  the 
names  I  have  mentioned  were  alone  on  fair  terms  with  the  flying 
pack.  From  Courtown  there  was  some  pretty  hunting  and  large 
fencing,  and  in  this  part  Captain  Ward  Bennett,  Mr.  Ellis,  Mr. 
Macniel,  and  a  few  more  were  very  well  carried.  The  parallel 
between  war  and  hunting  is  an  old  one,  but  in  nothing  perhaps 
is  the  analogy  closer  than  in  a  thoroughly  beaten  and  demoralised 
field  devouring  roads  and  fields  in  a  sauve  qui  pent  style — the 
majority  armed  with  the  most  cogent  reasons  why  they  were  not 
close  to  the  leading  hounds.  Few  coats  were  unsmirched;  the 
Board  of  Works  drain  played  havoc  with  the  unities  of  pipeclay 
and  French  polish ;  but  I  think  all  went  away  with  the  conviction 
that  they  had  "  assisted,"  feebly  or  forcibly,  at  a  "  real  good 
thing."  The  warm,  muggy  morning  made  scent  all  ablaze  on 
those  rich  low  pastures ;  but  Jem  Hill's  axiom  that  a  good  scenting 
day  is  invariably  a  good  hearing  day  was  quite  negatived  on  this 
occasion.  The  hounds  ran  anything  but  mutely,  and  yet  they 
were  almost  inaudible  a  few  fields  off. 

On   Monday,  the   27th,  the   original  fixture  for  the   Meath 


106  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

hounds  was  Beau  Park,  the  beautiful  residence  of  Mr.  Gustavus 
and  Lady  Fanny  Lambert,  on  the  river  Boyne;  but  it  was 
suddenly  changed  to  Abbotstown,  the  park  of  Mr.  Ion  Trant 
Hamilton,  M.P.,  a  short  distance  to  the  northward  of  Dublin. 
The  alteration  involved  some  dislocation  of  hunting  fixtures,  but 
the  Ward  Union  men  proved  that  their  edicts  were  neither 
Median  nor  Persian  in  their  character,  for  they  agreed  to  forego 
their  assembly  at  the  Flathouse  to  avoid  the  peril  of  clashing. 
I  rather  fancy,  though  I  speak  without  inspiration  or  authority, 
that  the  change  in  these  arrangements  venatic  was  made  to  gratify 
a  wish  expressed  by  his  grace  the  Duke  of  Abercorn,  who  was 
desirous  of  seeing  a  meet  of  the  Meath  hounds  before  he  bade 
farewell  to  Dublin,  its  court,  and  its  castle.  Be  that  as  it  may, 
the  gathering  in  front  of  Mr.  Hamilton's  comfortable  mansion 
was  not  only  exceptionally  large,  but  eminently  aristocratic,  com- 
prising as  it  did  most  of  the  notables  who  form  the  camp  and 
court  of  Dublin.  The  hounds  came  by  train,  and  did  not  appear 
in  the  court-yard  till  long  past  eleven  o'clock,  so  that  there  was 
ample  time,  not  only  to  take  a  leisurely  survey  of  the  splendid 
pageant,  but  also  to  gratify  a  more  imperious  and  aggressive 
sense,  provoked  by  a  frosty  morning  and  a  long  ride,  in  the 
dining-room  of  Abbotstown,  which  was  hospitably  thrown  open 
by  its  owner  to  esurient  pursuers.  Among  the  early  arrivals  is 
the  coach  of  the  Inniskillings ;  soon  follows  his  Royal  Highness 
the  Duke  of  Connaught's  phaeton,  containing  its  owner  and 
Captain  M.  Fitzgerald,  apparently  none  the  worse  for  Saturday's 
catastrophe.  The  Viceroyal  carriage,  with  its  team  of  brown 
horses  and  outriders,  is  always  a  goodly  sight,  and  some  half- 
dozen  more  carriages  grouped  around  were  good  enough  and 
well  enough  turned  out  even  for  Hyde  Park  of  a  June  afternoon. 
Time  would  fail  me  to  catalogue  the  tenants  of  smart  Victorias, 
waggonettes,  T  carts,  and  modester  Croydons.  Let  me  dismiss 
the  subject  by  remarking  that  the  following  comprised  the  Marquis 
and  Marchioness  of  Drogheda,  the  Marchioness  of  Blandford, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  107 

the  young  Earl  of  Sunderland,  Lady  Georgina  Hamilton,  Lord  and 
Lady  Courtown,  the  Hon.  Colonel  Thesiger  and  his  boy  on  a  model 
hunter  pony,  the«Hon.  S.  Maxwell,  the  Hon.  Captain  Rowley,  and 
Lords  Howth,  Clanmorris,  and  Langford. 

The  woods  of  Abbotstown  were  drawn  pro  forma;  not  that 
foxes  don't  harbour  here,  but  no  fox  would  hang  long  in  their 
covert  while  carriages  were  grinding  the  gravel,  and  the  hoofs  of 
hundreds  of  horses  were  resonant  all  round.  In  Hollywood  Rath 
demesne,  no  sooner  were  the  pack  put  into  the  small  belt  of  trees 
than  two  foxes  emerged,  one  striding  off  to  a  gorse  a  short  way  off, 
while  a  second  ran  towards  Abbotstown,  with  a  few  couple  of 
hounds  in  pursuit.  It  was  my  fortune  to  follow  his  Royal  High- 
ness, who,  mounted  on  his  black  horse,  gave  us  a  capital  lead  over 
a  deep  ditch  and  a  small  brook  (where  I've  seen  grief  before  now) 
in  pursuit  of  this  little  lot,  but  we  did  not  persevere,  hoping  the 
main  body  of  the  pack  would  come  up.  This  they  did  not  do. 
It  seems  the  Ward  River,  rather  in  flood,  arrested  the  tide  of 
pursuit,  and  certainly  the  dauntless  few  who  did  cross  it  by  wading 
or  swimming  justified  a  long  pause,  if  not  a  full  stop.  Lord 
Clanmorris  got  over  somehow,  but  the  next  man  who  emerged 
had  to  ride  home  without  stirrups,  and  with  a  stone  or  two  of 
water  about  his  person. 

Ballymacarny  Gorse  was  the  point  of  departure  for  several 
very  good  gallops  last  year.  We  found  there,  but  could  not  force  its 
tenant  outwards ;  so,  after  running  through  Priestown  Furze  brake, 
we  got  on  to  Kilrue.  Here  the  find  was  very  quick,  and  the  early 
stages  of  the  run  capital,  till  a  check  occurred  not  far  from 
Ashbourne.  The  line,  which  seemed  to  be  leading  on  towards 
Sutherland,  now  turns  to  the  left,  and  hounds  are  again  running 
hard  back  towards  Kilrue,  then  through  it  and  in  the  direction  of 
Balfestown,  with  an  inclination  back  to  Kilrue — a  figure  of  8 
almost — when  the  pack  and  very  diminished  field,  who  had  been 
going  au  clair  de  la  tune,  had  to  be  stopped,  seeing  that  the  hounds 
had  to  get  back  to  Dunboyne  station  to  catch  their  train  home- 


io8  HIBERNIA    V EN  ATI C A. 

wards.  Had  the  ^gallop  finished  a  very  few  moments  sooner, 
Captain  Graves  Sawle  would  not  have  had  to  mourn  the  loss  of  a 
very  good  hunter,  who  broke  a  hind  leg  at  the  close  of  the  pro- 
ceedings. There  was  much  grief  in  this  pursuit,  but  Captain  Sawle's 
sad  accident  (for  all  must  be  saddened  by  the  loss  of  a  good 
hunter)  was  the  only  serious  misadventure  I  heard  of.  Escapes 
from  kicking  were  narrow ;  among  others  the  Duke  of  Connaught 
was  well-nigh  a  sufferer.  A  good  move  was  made  by  a  few  men 
out,  who  warned  others  by  literal  devices  not  to  come  too  near 
their  kicking  hunters — 

"  I,  pedes  quo  te  rapiunt  et  aurse, 
I  pede  fausto." 

The  Meath  programme  at  Philpotstown  on  the  28th  was  most 
attractive.  The  Duke  of  Connaught  was  sure  to  draw  a  gallant 
concourse  of  fair  women  and  brave  men.  The  country  round  is 
charming  to  the  hunting  ken  !  Why  not  Philpotstown  ?  Can 
anyone  give  an  absolute  single  reason  for  many  of  the  minor 
moves  he  makes  in  the  game  of  life,  for  the  day's  or  hour's  arrange- 
ments? Motives  mingle  and  cross  each  other  like  the  rays  of 
light  in  perspective.  I  will  not  attempt  to  disentangle  the  skein. 
Whether  it  was  love  of  change,  the  recent  successes  of  the  Kildare 
hounds,  the  facilities  or  difficulties  in  getting  backwards  or 
forwards,  the  hour  of  rising,  or  what  influenced  me,  suffice  it  to 
say  here  that  Straff  an  was  my  goal  on  Tuesday,  the  2  8th — Straffan 
Bridge  the  fixture  of  the  Kildare  hounds  ;  nor  is  any  special  reason 
or  excuse  necessary  to  assign  for  a  visit  to  so  fair  a  scene.  The 
reach  of  the  Liffey  under  Straffan  House  is  one  of  the  best  bits  of 
that  winding  stream,  and  on  a  calm  morning  Major  Barton's  hand- 
some house  is  seen  clearly  mirrored  in  the  pool  below,  perfect  as 
in  a  photograph.  A  pleasant  distance  from  Dublin  by  road-  or  rail, 
accessible  to  the  Queen's  County  and  Meath,  and  surrounded  by 
agreeable  and  hospitable  country  houses,  Straffan  Bridge  is  not 
only  a  pleasant  and  picturesque  spot  in  itself,  but  'tis  also  the 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  109 

avenue  to  one  of  the  best  portions  of  Kildare's  hunting  grounds, 
either  looking  towards  Maynooth  or  Sallins,  while  the  parks  near 
the  bridge  are  not  sufficiently  wooded  to  induce  a  fox,  if  pushed 
about  sharply,  to  dally  long  in  their  glades  and  pleasaunces.  Riding 
home  last  night  from  the  final  gallop  with  the  Meath  hounds,  a 
red-shot  sky  boded  either  frost  or  rain,  or  both  in  quick  succession  • 
the  former  prevailed  during  the  watches  of  the  night,  and  by  9  a.m. 
white  rime  overspread  everything,  the  roads  were  hard  as  adamant, 
and  thin  ice  was  formed  over  all  the  surface  waters.  By  noon  the 
sun  shone  out  pretty  effectively,  and,  though  it  was  freezing  in  the 
shade,  mud  was  to  be  seen  in  the  thoroughfares.  Straffan  Bridge 
is  always  thronged,  nor  was  to-day  an  exception.  It  is  a  fixture 
much  affected  by  ladies,  and  the  hunting  ladies  were  there  almost 
to  a  woman — among  them  the  Ladies  Fitzgerald,  the  Hon.  Mrs. 
Barton,  Mrs.  Davis,  Mrs.  Forbes,  Mrs.  and  Miss  Tuthill,  Mrs. 
Langrishe,  the  Marchioness  of  Drogheda,  Lady  Annette  La 
Touche,  the  Misses  Finlay,  Miss  Kilbee,  Mrs.  Adair,  and  lots 
more  besides ;  but  of  the  names  I  have  mentioned  a  few  were 
driving,  and  not  riding  to-day.  Among  the  visitors  from  neigh- 
bouring counties  were  Mr.  Adair  and  Mr.  Skeffington  Smyth,  Mr. 
Macneil,  and  one  or  two  men  from  Meath.  The  Curragh  and  the 
Dublin  Garrison  swelled  the  assembly,  which  was  certainly  large, 
but  withal  very  manageable. 

The  first  bit  of  Straffan  (an  old  gorse)  drawn  revealed  nothing 
more  than  the  fact  that  the  fox  had  left  it  a  short  time  before. 
The  outskirts  of  Lodge  Park  did  not  even  do  so  much  as  that. 
Castle  Dillon  Gorse,  voted  a  certainty,  failed  us,  as  so  many 
certainties  do  occasionally.  Straffan  Park  remains,  and  hardly 
have  we  passed  the  house  and  shrubberies  before  the  long  line  is 
in  rapid  motion,  and  we  are  galloping  into  a  lane  way,  some- 
thing in  advance  of  those  confoundedly  slow  hounds  who  will 
stick  to  their  line  !  Here  they  come  at  last,  not  lifted  to  be  sure, 
but  hunting  every  yard  of  the  ground.  A  little  room  is  made  for 
them,  and  then  they  go  apparently  for  Rathcoffey — a  good  gallop 


no  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

in  prospect !  The  lane  is  choked.  Mr.  R.  Kennedy  takes  one 
figure  out  of  it  by  jumping  his  clever  cob  over  a  wide  ditch.  Two 
ladies  and  a  man  or  two  follow  suit,  but  their  effort  to  emerge  is  in 
vain.  The  hounds  turn  back  and  hunt  on  straight  into  the  woods 
of  Clongowes  College,  nearly  a  mile  distant.  Here,  in  a  coney- 
burrowed  bank,  he  took  refuge,  and,  there  being  no  extricator 
near  in  the  shape  of  spade  or  terrier,  he  was  left  to  his  ill- 
earned  rest,  while  the  field — those  at  least  whose  lines  were 
not  cast  in  distant  counties — crossed  the  Liffey  in  semi-Indian 
file  by  Major  Barton's  Suspension  Bridge  (a  bugbear  to  young 
horses  sometimes)  on  their  way  to  Bishopscourt,  where  creature 
comforts  as  well  as  foxes  were  sure  to  be  forthcoming.  Alas  for 
the  demolition  of  aerial  castles  !  There  was  no  fox  forthcoming 
at  Bishopscourt  (which  is  quite  a  phenomenon),  and  at  the 
adjacent  covert  of  Boston,  Lord  Cloncurry's — the  spes  suprema  of 
the  day — a  fox  was  chopped. 

Apropos  of  the  text  of  the  earlier  portion  of  this  letter — from 
which,  like  many  other  chroniclers,  I  diverged  widely,  led  away 
by  the  fancies  and  ideas  of  the  moment — I  should  state  fairly,  in 
referring  to  Mr.  Mansfield's  resignation  of  the  Kildare  mastership, 
that  a  portion  of  the  Dublin  press  gave  circulation  recently  to  a 
most  visionary  and  startling  report  that  Mr.  Mansfield's  retirement 
was  owing  to  a  grave  misunderstanding  with  an  influential  member 
of  his  hunt.  Those  who  knew  Mr.  Mansfield  well  must  be  aware 
how  extremely  improbable  such  a  contingency  would  be.  Still, 
the  report  was  circulated  with  the  addition  of  circumstance,  and, 
for  aught  I  know,  it  may  have  travelled  further  than  our  insular 
limits.  Let  me  here,  then,  state  most  positively,  with  authority — 
myself  an  uninfluential  member  of  the  hunt — that  for  once  rumour 
had  not  even  a  colouring  of  truth ;  that  no  misunderstanding  what- 
ever has  led  Mr.  Mansfield  to  take  a  step  dictated  solely  by  his 
personal  wishes  and  convenience,  for  the  simple  reason  that  no 
misunderstanding  whatever  has  arisen. 

I  have  recently  had  to  write  short  obituary  notices  of  several 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  nr 

good  hunters  killed  through  hunting  accidents.  Captain  Sawle's 
black  horse  yesterday  was  the  recentest  disaster.  Mr.  Cosby's 
ill-fortune  in  losing  two  valuable  animals  he  was  taking  over  with 
him  to  Pau — two  out  of  eight — is  even  a  more  grievous  mis- 
chance ;  for  of  the  others  may  be  said,  as  it  was  by  the  Grenadier 
of  the  old  French  Guard  in  answering  for  his  comrades  after 
action,  "  Mort  sur  le  champ  de  bataille"  But  Sampson,  one  of 
Sir  Edward  Kennedy's  hunt  horses  originally,  and  reserved  for  his 
own  use  by  Mr.  Cosby,  had  none  of  the  rapture  of  the  strife  ;  he 
was  an  exceptionally  good  hunter  in  any  country,  and  his  owner 
bought  him  in  last  May  at  Sewell's,  when  he  was  bid  up  to  a  very 
high  figure.  His  performance  in  the  Great  Cullenagh  run  last  year 
— if  unsupported — would  have  stamped  him  as  a  high-class  hunter. 
Mr.  Filgate,  in  the  matter  of  hounds,  seems  one  whom — 

"  Unmerciful  disaster 

Follows  fast  and  follows  faster  " — 

in  the  words  (or  something  like  them)  of  the  bard.  A  lady's  horse 
recently  was  unfortunate  enough  to  kick  and  kill  that  good  hound 
Advocate;  on  the  22nd  he  lost  Duster  (in  the  master's  opinion 
the  best  hound  he  ever  owned),  ridden  on  and  killed  in  a  good 
ring  from  Mallabrone — a  circumstance  which  probably  saved  this 
fox's  life,  as  master  and  men  stopped  with  their  favourite  in  his 
death  agony. 

While  the  Kildare  hounds  were  out  of  luck  in  their  Straffan 
country,  the  Ward  Unionists  (if  I  may  use  a  term  which  somehow 
seems  suggestive  of  strikes  and  picketing)  had  a  capital  half-hour 
or  more  with  a  deer  who  ran  over  a  considerable  portion  of  the 
Fairy  House  racecourse — a  line  familiar  to  many  of  your  readers, 
who,  no  doubt,  would  be  glad  to  be  riding  in  pursuit  on  that 
Easter  Monday,  when  silk  usurps  the  place  of  scarlet. 

On  Wednesday,  the  29th,  Lord  Derby — a  Knowsley  red  stag, 
of  course — led  them  across  part  of  the  Ten-mile  Bush  Farm,  and 
over  the  Rathregan  Lock,  which  proved  a  barrier  insuperable  to 


H2  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

all  but  a  gallant  half-dozen.  The  line  led  on  past  Parsonstown 
Manor  over  Mr.  Seery's  grass  lands,  which  are  entered  by  a  fine 
wide-topped  double,  thence  across  the  rails  of  the  Dublin  and 
Meath  line,  till  he  was  captured  in  an  outhouse,  on  the  lands  of 
Pelletstown,  I  think — the  riding  division  having  crossed  the  metals 
by  Killeston  Bridge,  which  is  not  far  from  Drumree  station.  A 
second  deer,  a  fallow  of  great  reputation,  was  in  the  deer  van,  but 
somehow  we  missed  the  driver,  or  the  driver  missed  us,  though  we 
went  in  quest  of  him  as  far  as  Dunshaughlin  village.  There  were 
a  few  very  smart  horses  out  to-day,  notably  a  chestnut  son  of 
Thomastown's — Tomboy,  I  think,  by  name,  Lady  Langrishe,  and 
a  nice  brown  mare  ridden  by  Captain  Colthurst — while  a  lady  was 
charmingly  carried  by  a  grey  that  I  recollect  noticing  with  the 
Meath  hounds  some  weeks  ago. 

I  hear  the  Newbridge  harriers  have  had  very  good  sport  lately; 
and  on  Monday  they  got  off  on  capital  terms  with  an  outlying 
fox,  whom  they  might  have  accounted  for  if  he  had  not  got  into 
sanctuary — a  fox  covert,  inviolate  of  course  for  harriers.  The 
on  dit  is  that  his  Royal  Highness,  who  seems  as  fond  of  hunting 
progresses  as  was  the  Earl  of  Spencer  in  his  viceroyalty,  is  about 
to  see  a  new  phase  of  fox-hunting  in  the  south,  the  Duhallow 
country  being  destined  for  his  first  visit.  Mr.  Hare  is,  I  am  told, 
fortunate  in  finding  plenty  of  foxes  in  his  new  territory,  and  scent 
enough  to  drive  them  along ;  but  the  United  Hunt  in  Cork  seem 
to  be  engrossing  the  lion's  share  of  the  good  things  "  down  south," 
as  they  say  in  America.  Thus,  on  the  2oth,  when  they  met  at 
Bally  Edmund,  Captain  Smith  Barry's  glen  supplied  material  for 
two  hours'  covert  hunting,  after  which  the  pack  got  on  to  one  at 
Temple  Carriga.  and  sent  him  racing  to  Young  Grove,  beyond 
which  he  got  to  ground.  On  Wednesday,  the  22nd,  they  had  a 
capital  run  from  Devonshire's  Brake  to  Lenlara.  On  Friday,  the 
24th,  they  were  at  Mogeely,  and  the  large  field  out  included  Lord 
Fermoy,  the  Hon.  Miss  Roche,  Mr.  R.  N.  P.  Fitzgerald,  etc. 
From  the  Strand  Road  Covert  they  took  a  fox  without  pause  or 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  113 

9 

dwell  to  Cloyne  Rocks,  where  he  was  safe  from  molestation — 
Miss  Roche,  I  hear,  in  the  very  van  of  pursuit  all  through.  A 
second  fox  turned  up  at  Knockastrikeen,  and  was  raced  at  top 
speed  for  some  four  miles,  which  disposed  of  the  majority  of  the 
field,  save  Messrs.  T.  Coppinger,  J.  Murphy,  and  S.  Bowles,  who 
were  in  the  front  rank,  as  well  as  the  huntsman.  The  Galway 
hounds  have  been  stopped  for  a  week,  owing  to  the  death  of 
Mr.  Robert  French,  of  Monivea  Castle ;  while  Mr.  Taaffe's  death 
suspends  the  Roscommon  stag-hounds  on  Thursday,  on  which  date 
they  were  to  have  met  at  Strokestown. 

The  recent  story  of  the  Limerick  hounds,  some  of  whose 
brilliant  passages  I  have  alluded  to  at  intervals  in  my  weekly 
letters,  is  somewhat  as  follows  :  On  the  i;th  ult.  they  met  at  Fort 
William,  and  the  very  limited  number  of  red  coats  boded  well  for 
elbow  room  and  sport.  There  seemed  a  good  stock  of  foxes 
in  Ballcngarry  Gorse,  but  the  selected  of  the  pack  was  a  ringing 
brute,  whose  tactics  were  round  and  round  the  hill;  so  he  was 
given  up  after  an  hour's  hunting.  A  move  was  now  made  to 
Mount  Brown,  and  just  as  the  pack  were  entering  the  demesne 
they  hit  off  the  line  of  a  fox  who  had  evidently  just  gone  away; 
so,  feathering  and  examining  the  ground  carefully,  they  at  last 
settled  down  to  him,  racing  him  to  the  Ballingarry  road  towards 
Lisnemota ;  they  then  sent  him  at  top  speed  over  the  water 
meadows,  with  Ballylin  to  the  left,  then  brushing  Ross  Covert, 
they  crossed  the  Kilfenny  Road,  passed  the  Glebe  House  at 
Derrytosna,  surmounted  Spierman's  Hill,  and  entering  Adair 
Manor  by  old  Castle  Robert  Wood,  they  rolled  their  fox  over  in 
the  open  by  the  river  banks,  almost  under  the  shadows  of  the 
ruined  abbeys.  Distance,  nine  miles,  done  under  the  hour.  On 
the  2oth  they  were  at  Inch  St.  Laurence,  and  found  plenty  of  foxes 
in  the  gorse  at  Knockyon,  and  killed  one  of  them  without  much 
sport.  From  Ballinagarde  a  fox  stood  up  for  two  hours,  and  got 
to  ground  at  last.  Fedamore  Gorse,  which  is  well  preserved  by 
Captain  Smith,  supplied  a  third  fox,  who  ran  in  rather  a  zig-zag 

i 


ii4  HIBERNIA    YEN  A  TIC  A. 

fashion  till  dark,  when  the  pack  were  stopped  at  Grey  Bridge. 
On  the  24th  they  were  at  Rostemple,  and  found  a  good  fox  at 
Glenna,  who  went  away  gallantly  to  Castle  Ivers  ;  thence  he  held 
on  between  Clorone  Gorse  and  Isamore,  with  Tory  Hill  (not  the 
Waterford  mountain)  in  front,  thence  by  the  poor-house  of  Croom 
into  Carass,  brushed  through  the  park,  and  was  rolled  over  in  the 
open  at  Castle  Roberts  after  a  grand  gallop. 

P.S. — The  chief  events  in  this  very  supplementary  budget  are 
a  long  desultory  run  in  Kildare  of  nearly  two  hours'  duration  on 
the  last  day  of  November,  ending  in  a  kill  not  far  from  the  starting 
point,  Copelands  Gorse.  On  the  same  day,  which  in  the  vicinity 
of  the  metropolis  was  clouded  with  a  haze  almost  amounting  to 
fog,  Mr.  Leonard  Morrogh  had  the  misfortune  to  break  his  leg  by 
a  fall  from  a  youngish  hunter  he  was  trying  while  jumping  that 
watery  chasm  known  and  dreaded  as  the  Lock  of  the  Bay.  His 
many  friends  will  be  glad  to  learn  that  he  is  going  on  very  well, 
though  the  bone  was  fractured  in  two  places. 

On  Saturday  the  Ward  Union  men  had  nearly  the  largest 
assembly  of  their  season  so  far  at  Priestown  cross  roads ;  the  first 
red  stag,  enlarged  by  Kilrue  Gate,  made  two  of  the  briefest  excur- 
sions off  the  road,  and  then  subsided  into  an  outhouse ;  the  second 
stag  was  reserved  for  a  bonne  louche;  but  it  certainly  was  a  trial 
of  patience  trotting  off  seven  miles  or  thereabouts  at  a  latish  hour 
to  the  distant  Garristown  Hill,  where  "  London,"  one  of  their  many 
truants  this  season,  had  been  seen  grazing  peaceably  this  morning, 
and  reported  to  Charley  Brindley.  After  riding  up  the  eastern 
slope  of  this  great  landmark,  and  just  as  we  had  topped  it,  away 
went  the  pack  at  score  into  the  valley  below,  which  a  glance 
showed  to  be  watered  by  many  a  brook  and  brooklet.  The  field 
divided  into  two  sections,  one  keeping  much  to  the  right,  the 
other  to  the  left.  The  former  had  the  best  of  it,  I  think.  The 
Primatestown  brook,  however,  confronted  all,  and  all  had  to  get 
over  as  best  they  could— or  in  and  out  One  or  two  more  sullen, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  115 

• 

sedgy  brooks  had  to  be  got  over,  and  here  pursuit  ceased  in  many 
a  case  I  wot  of — in  one,  at  any  rate,  in  which  I  had  a  strong 
personal  interest.  Curraha  and  Kilbrew  are  now  left  behind,  and 
the  chase  speeds  on  to  Somerville,  or  its  borders,  till  night  came 
on,  and  left  the  good  deer  London  to  roam  about  a  pasture  along 
with  the  countless  herds  of  horned  stock  that  graze  these  prairies 
till  another,  and  let  us  hope  an  earlier,  expedition  is  sent  in  quest 
of  him. 

On  the  same  day  the  Kildare  hounds  met  an  average-sized 
field  at  Blackchurch,  his  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught, 
riding  his  Lawyer  horse,  being  one  of  the  array.  Johnstown 
Kennedy  was  the  first  place  drawn — needless  to  say  successfully  ; 
but  the  fox,  after  running  for  about  ten  minutes,  got  to  ground  by 
Collierstown  Hill.  Dug  out,  he  repeated  his  former  tactics  near 
the  Woolpack  Road,  but  with  more  success,  as  he  remained  in 
statu.  The  little  hill  of  Kilteel  was  next  visited.  It  has  not  been 
a  holding  covert  for  the  last  few  seasons,  perhaps  because  it  was 
bled  too  freely  before;  but  to-day  it  held  one  of  its  old  traditionary 
foxes,  who  plunged  down  into  the  valley  at  once,  nearing  Arthurs- 
town  Gorse,  which  he  did  not  enter,  but  wheeled  sharp  to  the  left, 
as  if  for  Tinode  and  its  wooded  ravine ;  he  did  not  enter  Tinode 
either,  but  made  for  Glending  at  once ;  and  here  the  first  pause 
occurred,  after  a  very  sharp  gallop  of  nearly  eight  miles,  done  in 
thirty-five  minutes,  the  line  forming  something  nearly  an  approach 
to  the  shape  of  the  letter  S.  Only  those  who  were  happy  in  their 
start  had  a  chance  of  seeing  anything  of  the  pack,  or  riding  any- 
thing but  a  very  fast  and  hopeless  stern  chase.  Among  the 
many  who  got  off  badly  was  his  Royal  Highness,  but  he  never 
gave  up  persevering  till  the  end  (spite  of  a  fall).  Among  those 
who  were  fortunate  in  securing  front  places  early,  and  keeping 
them,  was  Mr.  W.  Blacker,  on  his  cup  winner,  Snow-Storm.  From 
Glending  the  hunting  became  somewhat  of  a  potter  on  to  near 
Elverstown,  over  Slieve  Rue  Hill,  when  the  good  fox  got  to 
ground.  Arthurstown,  drawn  late,  sent  forth  a  fine  fox,  who  got 


n6  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

to  ground  in  Mr.  Hendrick's  lands  at  Newtown  ;  but  by  this  time 
there  was,  as  I  hear,  hardly  light  to  see  the  fences.  By  all 
accounts  this  was  a  magnificent  day's  sport ;  the  line  taken  a 
regular  old-fashioned  one,  such  as  turned-down  foxes  would  hardly 
dare  to  enterprise. 

On  Friday  last  Sir  David  Roche  had  a  first-class  gallop  from 
Fedamore  Gorse,  thirty-five  minutes  without  pause,  Mr.  Amcotts, 
of  the  5th  Dragoons,  unfortunately  killing  his  hunter.  The  Duke 
of  Connaught  was  unlucky  in  his  visit  to  Meath  last  week,  the  best 
gorses  of  the  county  not  holding  on  that  particular  occasion,  while 
another  covert  drawn  held  too  many  for  sport.  Thirty-seven 
minutes  of  good  pace  from  Farrenalcock  Gorse  on  the  ist  (the 
intervention  of  a  river  rather  marred  it  for  some  pursuers)  was 
about  the  best  thing  seen  in  Meath  last  week,  though  now  I  can 
only  glance  at  it. 

The  Kildare  hounds  had  a  very  fine  gallop  from  Hatfield  on 
the  4th,  of  which  more  anon. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  117 


IX. 

'  A  bishop  in  Bond  Street  to  guns  was  inclin'd  ; 
In  coping  this  prelate  relax'd  his  great  mind." 


A  bishop  in  partibus—Steg  hunting— Mr.  Dundas  on  "  Gazalier"— Bellinter 
harriers — Blue  collars — Beltrasna  Gorse — Limerick  hounds. 

THE  casualties  and  misfortunes  attributed,  and  perhaps  not  un- 
fairly, to  the  unusual  blindness  of  the  country  at  this  season, 
remind  me  of  an  anecdote  which  may  possibly  be  new  to  some  of 
my  readers,  forgotten  by  others,  and  so  far  half-new.  There  was 
a  bishop  in  Ireland,  not  quite  a  hundred  years  ago,  who  combined 
with  his  episcopal  functions  a  nice  and  discriminating  taste  in 
horseflesh.  He  dearly  loved  a  horse,  but  what  he  loved  even 
more  was  selling  the  object  of  his  fond  affection — no  doubt  with 
the  laudable  and  philanthropic  view  of  benefiting  his  laic  and 
secular  brother.  The  bishop  owned  a  very  fine  young  animal, 
who  seemed  endowed  with  every  qualification  that  hunter  of  high 
class  should  be  gifted  withal,  save  that  accident  or  misfortune  had 
robbed  him  of  an  eye.  Hearing  that  an  English  dealer,  who  had 
not  been  unknown  at  Market  Harborough,  had  settled  in  Dublin, 
and  was  giving  long  prices  for  young  fresh  hunters  of  quality  and 
substance,  he  wrote  him  a  glowing  picture  of  his  colt,  and,  without 
mentioning  price,  asked  him  if  he  thought  such  a  paragon  could 
fail  to  make  a  hunter,  even  single-eyed  as  he  was.  The  dealer's 
reply  was  laconic,  and  not  encouraging  ;  it  ran  somewhat  thus  : 
"  My  lord,  in  a  long  experience  with  hunters,  I  have  invariably 


n8  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

found  that  they  require  two  good  eyes  in  their  head  and  one  in 
their  tail,  if  that  were  possible."  I  think  the  professional  dealer 
had  the  pull  of  his  amateur  brother  coper  on  this  occasion,  though 
most  men  of  any  experience  can  recollect  an  odd  one-eyed  hunter 
of  good  character  for  performance,  though  more  steadiness  and 
watchfulness  were  required  to  save  the  rider  from  occasional 
accident. 

"On  Monday,"  says  the  old  ballad  of  Chevy  Chase,  if  I 
remember  aright,  "  they  began  to  hunt  when  daylight  did  appear." 
The  little  party  I  refer  to  did  nothing  of  the  kind;  but  they 
resembled  their  forebears  in  two  things — first,  in  that  they  hunted 
the  stag ;  secondly,  in  that  they  did  so  on  Monday ;  all  other  con- 
ditions were  widely  different.  Instead  of  "daylight,"  read  "after 
lunch,"  and  so  on  ;  the  points  of  difference  being  widely  in  excess 
of  those  of  resemblance.  The  party  I  wish  to  introduce  to  your 
readers  was  a  very  small  group  of  Ward  Union  men  at  the  Kilrue 
Gate  on  the  4th  inst,,  to  which  number  you  may  add  as  acces- 
sories, Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  whom  the  Wild  Irishman 
and  the  Holyhead  steamer  had  only  injected  into  Ireland  a  few 
hours  before ;  just  enough  space  for  hot  bath,  a  breakfast,  and 
a  rapid  scurry  to  the  meet  in  one  of  Dublin's  fast  "  outsiders." 
The  quarry  of  the  day  was  a  red  stag,  and  the  scene  of  his  enlarge- 
ment was  a  pasture  field  at  Mullinam.  From  here  he  bounded 
forth,  apparently  full  of  "  go,"  and  ran  an  incomplete  ring  by  Mr. 
Reid's  farm  to  the  fence  of  the  Ratoath  Road,  which  he  did  not 
cross,  but  turned  leftwards  towards  Fairy  House.  Here  the  pace, 
which  had  been  rather  slow,  quickened  a  bit  as  the  line  led  over 
this  famous  racecourse,  past  its  ghastly  white  empty  stand,  over 
the  entrance  road,  and  on  towards  Lagore,  till,  after  a  pleasant 
run  in  the  form  of  a  loop,  the  muckle  beastie  was  safely  captured 
not  far  from  Ratoath ;  and  as  the  diurnal  rain — which  had  ceased 
for  a  few  hours  and  given  the  sun  a  few  moments  to  dart  forth 
feeble  rays,  and  the  birds  some  respite  from  the  watery  dispensa- 
tion in  which  they  busied  themselves  in  preening  their  wet  plum- 


H1BERNIA  VE  NAT  1C  A.  119 

age — began  to  descend  again  unintermittingly,  I  think  a  general 
dispersion  took  place.  It  was  a  pleasant  run  enough,  over  beau- 
tiful country,  but  so  holding  and  water-sodden  withal  that  every 
mile  was  equal  to  two  of  ordinary  travelling,  and  the  heavy  going, 
added  to  the  greasiness  of  the  banks,  made  falls  as  thick  as  black- 
berries in  October,  nearly  the  last  fence  having  almost  half-a-dozen 
hunting  forms  extended  on  its  bank  at  the  same  time.  A  lady 
came  down  at  an  up-bank  near  the  stand  of  the  Fairy  House,  but 
was  none  the  worse  for  it,  and  continued  pursuit.  No  one 
saw  more  of  the  cream  of  the  thing  than  Mr.  Harper,  on  a  fine 
brown  "M.D."  horse,  who  makes  nothing  of  his  rider's  welter 
impost.  The  field  was  nearly  the  smallest  gathering  I  ever  saw 
with  this  pack,  but  the  flooded  state  of  this  flat  basin  had  no 
doubt  a  most  deterrent  effect,  not  to  speak  of  the  menacing  aspect 
of  the  day  itself. 

Let  me  now,  in  the  dialect  of  the  chase,  hark  back  to  a  few 
hunting  passages  I  was  forced  to  slur  over  in  my  last  letter,  from 
want  of  space  or  time,  or  both.  The  Dunlavin  clay  in  Kildare 
was  noticeable  for  a  very  large  field  in  an  out-of-the-way  place 
nearly  a  score  miles  from  any  railway,  and  for  the  galaxy  of  ladies 
to  be  seen  pursuing  or  viewing.  The  run  lasted  nearly  two  hours, 
part  of  it  was  fast,  and  over  one  of  the  stiffest  bits  of  country  that 
ever  tried  horseflesh;  and  yet  a  thorough-bred  ci-devant  chaser 
with  an  inclination  to  eagerness  at  his  fences — Gazalier,  ridden  by 
Mr.  Dundas — never  put  a  foot  wrong,  as  I  hear,  in  the  whole 
circuit.  Another  feature  worthy  of  notice  in  this  fox  chase  was  the 
fact  of  the  quarry,  when  pretty  dead  beat,  seeking  asylum  in  an 
outhouse,  where  "  the  fox,"  as  the  fowl  committee  of  the  hunt 
know  full  well,  had  proved  a  very  hen-harrier  and  poultry  glutton. 
He  was  ejected  from  this,  and  soon  after  run  into;  for,  not  to 
quote  the  "  engineer  hoist  of  his  own  petard,"  he  illustrated  the 
Augustan  bard's  couplet : 

" non  lex  est  justior  ulla, 

Quam  necis  artifices  arte  perire  sua. " 


120  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

The  hunting  record  of  Meath  last  week,  when  cut  down  to 
shortest  limits,  runs  thus  :  On  November  28th  they  found  at  once 
at  Philpotstown,  had  a  short  ring  by  Churchtown,  and  swam  into 
their  fox  in  the  river  near  Dunleery  Bridge.  A  nice  gallop  from 
Trimbleston  to  ground  at  Ballytallion  followed.  On  the  2Qth 
they  met  at  the  Ball  Abbey  near  Kells,  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Con- 
naught  being  in  the  field.  Boltown  and  Killallon  failed  for  once 
to-day.  Clonabraney  and  its  many  foxes  showed  no  sport,  neither 
did  Sylvan  Park.  Friday,  December  ist,  they  met  at  Headfort, 
but  a  shooting  party  had  been  there  during  the  week,  and  the 
woods  were  foxless  to-day.  Farrenalcock  Gorse  turned  out  a  good 
sharp  fox,  who  ran  well  for  thirty-seven  minutes  through  Bellair 
over  the  Moynalty  river,  through  Kingsfort,  till  he  got  to  ground 
in  Challoner's  Gorse.  Kingsfort  Glen  held  another  fox,  who  ran 
by  Cherry  Mount  and  Oakley  Park  in  the  direction  of  Farrenal- 
cock, till  the  hounds  had  to  be  stopped  as  the  light  waned. 

There  has  been  a  certain  amount  of  dislocation  in  the  hunt- 
ing arrangements  of  this  present  week,  consequent  on  deaths 
and  departures.  Mr.  Gray's  neat  register  of  hunting  fixtures  for 
Kildare  announced  a  meet  at  the  Hill  of  Allen  for  Tuesday.  Mr. 
Kelly's  (of  Navan)  well-got-up  hunting  calendar  invited  us  in  the 
rosiest-tinted  pasteboard  to  attend  the  Meath  lists  at  Bellinter  on 
Tuesday  at  eleven  of  the  clock.  The  latter  summons  was  post- 
poned till  the  following  day,  to  enable  loyal  Meath  to  pay  a  part- 
ing tribute  of  respect  to  his  Grace  of  Abercorn,  who  was  resigning 
his  high  office  and  leaving  the  shores  of  Ireland.  The  Kildare 
meet  was  abandoned  out  of  sympathy  for  the  family  and  respect 
for  the  memory  of  Mr.  O'Connor  Henchy,  who  was  buried  on  that 
day.  Nor,  indeed,  could  the  hunt  corporation  do  less,  seeing  that 
many  lustrums  ago,  when  the  fate  of  hunting  hung  in  the  balance 
all  over  Ireland — I  allude  to  the  famine  years,  when  the  value  of 
property  was  little  more  than  nominal— Mr.  O'Connor  Henchy, 
like  the  famous  Roman  dictator,  did  not  despair  of  the  Republic, 
but  consented,  at  personal  sacrifice,  to  undertake  the  presidency 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  121 

and  hold  it  till  plenty  smiled  once  more  on  the  plague  and  famine 
stricken  soil.  How  ably  he  acquitted  himself  of  the  self-imposed 
trust,  many  in  Kildare  remember  gratefully ;  nor  were  his  years  of 
office  barren  of  high-class  sport — quite  the  reverse.  In  the  senate 
he  represented  his  native  county  ably  and  efficiently  for  many 
years,  resigning  this  trust  only  from  failing  health  and  the  torture 
of  rheumatism,  which  completely  and  incurably  crippled  a  very 
athletic  and  graceful  form.  His  love  for  hunting  was  shown  by 
his  constant  attendance  at  all  the  practicable  meets;  and  till 
recently  his  well-appointed  carriage  was  quite  a  feature  in  the 
Kildare  gatherings,  while  his  house  overflowed  with  hunting 
guests,  and  foxes  were  seldom  absentees  from  his  gorse  and  wood- 
lands. 

On  Monday  the  Kildare  hounds  were  due  at  the  neat  and 
picturesque  village  of  Branoxtown,  which  is  close  to  the  con- 
verging parks  of  Harristown,  Giltown,  and  Sallymount.  The 
news  of  Mr.  O'Connor  Henchy's  death  had  been  brought  to  the 
majority  by  the  post  of  the  morning,  and  it  was  mooted  whether 
the  hounds  should  not  be  sent  home.  The  presence  of  a  great 
many  strangers  decided  the  master  in  negativing  this  suggestion. 
The  result  was  a  most  successful  day.  Moore  Hill  was  the  first 
covert  drawn,  and  from  its  glen  some  three  or  four  foxes  issued 
forth,  while  the  hounds  got  on  one  whose  course  leads  to  the 
conclusion  that  he  was  the  same  vulp  who  had  baffled  the  pack 
after  a  long  hunting  run  from  Stonebrook  not  long  ago,  for  his  line 
for  a  long  distance  was  precisely  identical,  threading  his  way  by 
the  banks  of  the  Liffey,  by  the  Blackthorns,  Geogheganstown, 
Ardenode,  Mullacash,  and  finally  getting  to  ground  on  its  banks. 
Hatfield  Gorse  was  then  visited  after  a  few  preliminary  explora- 
tions, and  from  it  broke  a  fox,  who,  it  is  not  unfair  to  suppose, 
was  one  of  last  year's  good  stout  tenants,  the  survivor  of  several 
long  and  perilous  chases.  His  first  point  was  to  the  Carlow  road, 
thence  right  over  the  Ballymount  Hill  into  Ballintaggart  Gorse, 
which  did  not  detain  him  much  longer  than  I  take  to  narrate  the 


122  HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A. 

fact,  if  so  long ;  thence  down  the  valley,  over  the  flooded  brook 
which  leads  to  the  water  meadows,  till  there  was  a  check  on  Rath- 
sallagh  Fair  Green — much  appreciated  by  all  who  had  ridden  for 
twenty-five  minutes  over  give-and-take  land,  hill  and  dale,  at  the 
top  of  their  horses'  speed.  Slow  hunting  now  took  the  place  of 
the  fast  and  furious  scurry  of  the  opening  scene,  and  the  line 
eventually  led  back  to  Hatfield. 

There  was  a  prudent  lull  in  the  fox  campaign  in  the  Irish 
Shires  on  Tuesday,  for,  looking  at  the  list  of  those  who  attended 
Lord  Abercorn's  valedictory  levee  in  Dublin,  it  is  evident  that  the 
fields  would  have  been  very  thinly  attended  and  shorn  of  many  of 
their  best  men.  There  was,  however,  one  district  in  Meath  where 
the  armistice  was  broken,  and  one  fox  had  the  narrowest  escape 
from  being  rolled  over.  It  was  on  this  wise :  Mr.  Preston's 
harriers  were  due  at  Kilmessan  on  Tuesday  at  noon  ;  but  the  day 
was  so  soakingly  wet,  and  the  downpour  so  heavy  and  incessant, 
that  the  hounds  did  not  leave  their  kennels  till  one  o'clock,  when 
the  master  sent  them  out  on  the  off-chance  of  a  field.  No  one 
turned  up  on  the  way  to  the  fixture,  nor  did  it  seem  probable  that 
any  one  would  bring  a  horse  out  in  such  teeming  torrents ;  so 
Suter,  the  huntsman,  put  the  hounds  into  a  field  close  to  the  old 
castle  of  Riverstown.  At  once  they  dragged  on  to  the  edge  of 
some  wild,  unenclosed  gorse,  into  which  they  dashed  frantically,  a 
fox  breaking  in  front  of  them,  and  racing  up  Tara  Hill,  apparently 
bound  for  Lismullen  Woods,  but  a  bend  to  the  left  brought  him 
into  Castletown,  and  thence  into  the  Bridge  Woods  of  Bellinter, 
where  the  hounds  were  stopped  as  they  were  entering  Dowdstown 
— the  regular  draw  for  the  next  morning  with  the  Meath  fox- 
hounds. For  thirty-five  minutes  the  bitches  never  had  to  stoop 
for  an  instant,  as  the  scent  was  breast  high,  and  they  are  bred  to 
race.  Only  Mr.  C.  Rothwell,  Suter,  and  perhaps  one  more,  saw 
this  fine  gallop ;  for,  as  bad  luck  would  have  it,  there  was  one 
keen  sportsman  at  the  meeting-place  who  stayed  till  he  was 
drenched,  and,  after  all,  missed  the  run  of  the  season !  An  accu- 
mulation of  unmerited  bad  fortune  ! 


•  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  123 

Wednesday,  the  6th,  was  almost  continuously  fine,  and  I 
mention  the  circumstance  as  something  quite  phenomenal  in  this 
wet  cycle.  The  Meath  hounds  were  to  meet  at  Bellinter  this 
forenoon,  and  those  whose  way  thither  lay,  as  mine  did,  through 
a  part  of  the  cream  of  the  Ward  Union  vale,  must  have  been 
struck  by  the  omnipresent  traces  of  the  recent  rainfall — rivulets 
swollen  to  the  proportion  of  brooks,  brooks  to  the  volume  of 
rivers,  while  superficial  water  filled  the  furrows  of  the  pastures  and 
made  small  systems  of  lakes  and  ponds  on  every  side.  The  river 
Boyne  flows  between  Bective  and  Bellinter  woods,  in  a  stream  not 
altogether  unlike  or  unequal  to  the  Thames  at  Twyford.  In 
ordinary  weather  there  is  a  wide  margin  of  pasture  land  fringing 
either  bank ;  but  now  a  swollen  and  turbid  torrent  was  rushing 
down  between  the  wooded  slopes,  and  had  usurped  every  bit  of 
intervening  land :  small  chance  for  a  fox  if  he  tried  the  device, 
which  was  so  successful  on  a  former  occasion,  of  swimming  across 
from  Bellinter  to  Bective. 

But  the  hour  is  eleven ;  carriages  are  driving  up  continuously 
to  the  hall  door  of  Mr.  Preston's  fine  mansion ;  hacks  are  being 
walked  about  in  numbers,  as  their  owners  make  "  a  meridian  "  of 
it  inside.  The  multitudinous  peafowl,  who  had  been  busy  re- 
pairing the  damages  of  yesterday,  are  being  scared  away  by  the 
red  invasion  into  the  surrounding  woods.  Altogether  a  fairer  or 
a  more  animated  scene  than  a  meet  at  Bellinter,  viewed  from  the 
hall  steps  on  a  fine  day,  need  not  be  craved,  with  its  thronged 
court-yard,  its  circular  private  racecourse  in  front  framed  in  by 
well-grown  large-girthed  timber,  while  the  historic  hill  of  Tara 
overlooks  all.  It  is  now  a  quarter-past  eleven,  and  still  there  are 
lingerers,  but  the  hounds  are  busy  with  a  cub,  whom  they  have 
found  near  the  house,  and  whom  they  bring  in  nearly  a  complete 
circle  to  the  edge  of  the  kennels,  where  they  roll  him  over. 
Dowdstown  is  the  next  draw.  Few  go  into  the  woods  with  the 
pack ;  most  ride  round  the  park  wall  on  the  road,  fully  calculating 
on  thirty  or  forty  minutes'  covert  hunting  before  a  fox  can  be 


124  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

forced  into  the  open  on  either  side.  Coffee-housing  is  at  its 
fullest  tide,  when  suddenly  something  or  somebody  spreads  the 
news  that  the  hounds  have  found,  run  through  covert,  breasted  a 
hill,  and  are  now  half  a  mile  ahead,  pointing  for  Somerville.  We 
ascend  the  hill  and  see  that  the  news  is  only  too  true,  the  only 
consoling  feature  being  that,  instead  of  going  straight  into  Somer- 
ville, they  are  bending  up  to  Lismullen,  having  run  a  loop,  and 
that  if  we  are  quick  we  can  probably  catch  them  at  Lismullen 
Gorse.  This  programme  was  carried  out  to  the  letter,  and  we 
laggarts  came  on  the  track  as  they  were  leaving  the  gorse,  just  in 
time  to  see  a  good  sportsman,  Mr.  Dunville,  kicked  off  his  hunter 
into  the  very  miriest  bed  of  mud  to  be  found,  by  the  playful  heels 
of  a  neighbour.  We  are  now  crossing  the  road,  and  brushing 
through  the  outskirts  of  Lismullen's  extensive  park  (Sir  John 
Dillon's),  again  skirting  the  gorse,  and  plunging  down  at  better 
pace  into  the  valley  below  us,  till  we  reach  Walterstown,  when  our 
fox  turned  sharp  to  the  left,  and  got  back,  I  believe,  to  Lismullen 
Woods.  In  the  evening  they  went  back  to  Bellinter.  I  fancy 
there  was  more  feasting  than  fox-hunting  on  the  occasion.  Among 
the  recenter  arrivals  in  Meath  for  the  hunting  season  is  Captain 
Low,  late  8th  Hussars.  He  was  riding  to-day  a  very  neat  chestnut 
son  of  Conjuror's  (the  sire  of  Juggler),  dam  by  Recherche,  who 
looks  like  slipping  very  fast  over  a  country.  Those  who  rode 
back  via  Dunshaughlin  found  that  the  Ward  Union  men  had  just 
ridden  through  it  in  pursuit  of  their  stag,  who,  enlarged  at 
Rathbeggan,  had  given  them  a  capital  chase,  leaving  the  poor-house 
to  the  left,  and  thence  on  by  Porterstown  and  Priestown. 

I  must  say  I  admire  greatly  those  who  have  the  courage  of 
their  opinions,  as  the  Gallic  idiom  goes,  and  in  a  similar  way  I 
admire  those  who  have  the  courage  of  their  livery.  Now  the 
costume  of  the  Meath  hunt  is  red  with  blue  collar,  and  I  have  no 
reason  to  believe  or  fancy  it  has  ever  been  changed  or  the  blue 
collar  abolished ;  yet  at  the  covert  side  I  can  only  see  one  man 
who  sticks  to  the  regulation  pattern — Captain  Shirley  Ball,  late 


,  HIBERNIA   YEN  A  TIC  A.  125 

8th  Hussars,  whose  bay  mare  could  make  it  a  very  conspicuous 
beacon,  I  fancy,  in  a  quick  thing  over  a  big  country.  Every  one 
wears  the  blue  at  night.  Why  it  is  tabooed  in  the  day  by  most 
men  passes  my  power  of  divination.  It  is  not  more  peculiar  than 
the  Pytchley  white,  of  which  the  members  of  that  hunt  are  not  yet 
ashamed  or  tired,  I  believe. 

The  week  past  was  not  memorable  or  brilliant  in  Louth,  though 
a  good  fox  turned  up  in  Lisrenny  on  Tuesday,  who  ran  by  Louth 
Hall  and  Charlestown,  skirted  Gudderstown  Gorse,  and  gained 
Bragganstown  Gorse  after  an  hour  and  a  half's  hunting,  when  fresh 
foxes  met  the  hounds,  and  one  was  taken  on  to  Charleville. 

On  the  3oth,  after  killing  a  bad  fox,  they  found  a  second  at 
Mosney,  and  came  away  well  by  Corballis  to  Ballygarth,  where  a 
tidal  river  stopped  proceedings,  and  the  rest  of  the  day  was  spent 
between  Hilltown  and  the  Carnes,  with  lots  of  foxes,  but  short 
goers. 

On  Friday,  the  8th  inst,  Mr.  Kelly,  printer,  Navan,  The  Field, 
BelVs  Life,  the  Sporting  Gazette,  the  Irish  Sportsman  and  Farmer, 
and  I  know  not  how  many  more  organs  and  oracles  of  sport,  pro- 
claimed with  the  trumpet  of  the  mighty  press  urbi  et  orbi,  that  the 
Meath  vehmgericht  would  hold  its  session  at  Summerhill,  at  eleven 
of  the  clock  a.m.,  and  there  issue  its  writ  to  its  executive  officer, 
Goodall,  against  all  and  sundry  foxes  in  the  vicinity,  for  wicked 
conspiracy  against  the  peace  and  safety  of  Sir  Chanticleer  and 
Dame  Partlett  and  their  innumerable  belongings.  "Habeas 
corpus"  ran  the  writ — we  who  read  between  the  lines  may  add 
"  si  possis."  Now  Summerhill,  says  an  authority  on  topography, 
is  a  post  town  in  the  parish  of  Larracor,  baronry  of  Lower  Moy 
Fenragh,  county  of  Meath  and  province  of  Leinster,  five  miles  from 
Trim,  seventeen  W.N.W.  from  Dublin.  At  that  time  it  contained 
49  houses  and  331  inhabitants;  whether  it  has  increased  or  de- 
creased since  the  publication  of  my  dictionary  of  reference 
matters  not  now.  It  is  a  neater  village  than  one  often  comes 
across,  with  a  few  much  better  class  houses ;  as  a  sheep  fair  it  is, 


i26  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

I  believe,  celebrated  beyond  its  own  limits.  What  is  far  more  to 
the  purpose  just  now  to  relate  is  the  fact  of  its  accessibility  from 
Dublin  by  two  lines — the  Midland  Great  Western,  which  lands  its 
passengers,  human  and  equine,  bound  for  Summerhill  at  Maynooth 
or  Kilcock ;  while  another  line,  the  Meath,  brings  its  hunting 
freight  to  Drumree,  some  five  or  six  miles  distant  also.  Close  by 
the  village  is  Lord  Langford's  fine  park,  and  a  straight,  wide 
avenue,  something  short  of  half  a  mile  I  should  imagine,  and  with 
rather  a  sharp  gradient,  brings  you  to  his  spacious  house,  which 
overlooks  not  only  almost  every  acre  of  the  home  park,  but  a  very 
great  extent  of  the  flat  pasture  vales  of  Kildare,  Meath,  and 
Dublin  also.  By  a  strange  coincidence,  in  a  rather  open  winter 
it  has  fortuned  that  a  Summerhill  meet  should  be  associated 
with  the  Arctic  powers  of  frost  and  snow.  The  latter  prevailed 
on  the  first  occasion  when  his  Royal  Highness  and  a  large  party 
attended  the  fixture ;  the  former  was  our  antagonist  to-day. 
Neither,  I  am  happy  to  say,  marred  sport,  or  even  considerably 
delayed  it. 

I  think  to-day  the  hospitality  of  lords  overrode  the  punctuality 
of  princes,  for  it  was  nearly  half-past  eleven  o'clock  when  the 
hounds  were  put  into  covert,  and  the  woods  became  vocal  forth- 
with. Of  the  first  fox  I  can  say  nothing ;  I  believe  he  went  away 
somewhere  in  the  Bullring  direction.  The  second  broke  near  the 
Kilcock  Gate,  and  ran  very  sharply  over  a  wide  field  or  two,  as  if 
he  meant  to  go  towards  Agher,  when  he  wheeled  for  Drumlargan, 
and  beat  the  hounds  out  of  scent.  Whether  this  were  caused  by 
the  sudden  incubation  of  a  very  dense  fog,  which  completely 
blotted  out  the  Kildare  side  of  the  country  from  view,  I  leave  to 
the  discussion  of  the  learned  in  the  philosophy  of  scent.  From 
Drumlargan  we  got  into  a  clearer  atmosphere,  and  could  see  our 
surroundings.  Let  us  take  a  glance  at  them.  Kildare  has  sent 
a  representative  body  to  this  assembly.  Mr.  W.  Forbes  is  on 
Darius  the  Persian,  a  very  handsome  blood-like  bay  horse ; 
whether  called  by  that  Oriental  title  because  if  he  says  "  no  "  at 


0  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  127 

a  fence  his  law,  like  those  of  his  ancestors,  "  altereth  not,"  I 
cannot  say,  but  will  only  add  that  on  his  "  going  days,"  which  are 
the  rule,  he  is  a  "  rum  one  to  follow,  a  bad  one  to  beat,"  like  the 
Laureate's  horse.  Mr.  Percy  La  Touche  is  on  Gondola,  a  very 
racing-looking  mare,  selected  perhaps  from  her  brook-jumping 
powers.  Mr.  F.  Rynd  is  on  Grey  Plover,  who  seemed  to  have 
taken  out  a  patent  last  year  for  winning  hunters'  and  farmers'  races, 
and  is  none  the  worse  or  less  temperate  for  his  achievements 
between  flags.  Captain  Davis  is  riding  a  very  thick,  strong  chest- 
nut, a  "Blood  Royal,"  I  should  imagine,  and  a  very  perfect  fencer. 
Among  the  visitors  are  Mr.  C.  Macdonald  Morton,  long  the 
popular  and  successful  president  of  the  Westmeath  Hunt;  Captain 
and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Mr.  Dundas,  Mr.  Price,  and  one  or 
two  more  from  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards ;  Captain  Graves  Sawle, 
A.D.C.,  on  a  very  perfect  iron-grey  horse ;  one  or  two  of  the  yth ; 
and  Colonel  Frank  Forster  on  the  beautiful  Greek  Fire. 

I  should  have  stated  that  "  society  "  in  Ireland  was  dancing 
last  night  at  Emo,  Lord  Portarlington's  beautiful  house  and  park 
in  the  Queen's  County  the  Duke  of  Connaught  being  one  of  the 
guests  there.  The  ball  was  to  be  followed  by  a  meet  to-day 
(Friday)  on  Maryboro's  heath  ;  but  a  strong  contingent  forbore 
sleep  and  rosy  dreams  of  fair  women,  and  posted  across  to 
Summerhill — no  small  tribute  to  the  Meath  hounds  and  the  Meath 
country. 

We  are  now  by  Garradice  Gorse,  which  I  attempted  to 
describe,  I  think,  in  a  previous  letter.  The  fog  threatens,  but 
has  not  descended  on  us  completely.  The  find  is  so  quick,  there 
is  hardly  an  instant  to  do  the  needful  to  girths,  etc.  The  first 
narrow  bank  and  ditch  are  jumped,  apparently  safely  by  all,  when 
in  the  very  second  or  third  field  scent  fails  again,  though  we  are 
entering  on  the  land  of  turf  and  old  pasture ;  and,  after  a  slow 
drag  on  as  far  as  Pierstown,  the  order  is  given  to  'bout  ship  and 
try  Garradice  again.  At  this  conjuncture  of  affairs  down  came 
the  fog  seriously,  sights  and  sounds  assuming  that  grotesque, 


128  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

unusual,  "  Alice  in  Wonderland "  character  that  fog  sometimes 
imparts.  Home  and  stables  seemed  to  me  the  right  thing  under 
the  circumstances,  and  I  had  gone  some  distance  with  this  intent, 
when  I  was  arrested  by  the  note  of  a  single  hound,  so  completely 
drowning  those  of  the  pack,  that  I  turned  back  to  the  gorse  to  see 
what  was  to  be  seen.  Lots  of  foxes,  and  lots  of  covert  hunting, 
but  no  power  could  force  them  to  break ;  so  Mr.  Waller  gave  us 
the  cue  for  Beltrasna  Gorse,  some  three  or  four  short  miles  off. 
Again  the  fog  came  down  like  a  pall,  and  as  one  or  two  widish 
ditches  had  to  be  done  en  route,  and  as  said  ditches  were  pretty 
full  of  water,  there  were  some  bathing  scenes  enacted,  and  a  Triton 
or  two  to  be  seen  disporting  themselves  in  muddy  waters.  We 
are  now  at  the  edge  of  this  good  gorse,  near  enough  to  learn  that 
it  is  tenanted,  and  by  no  recreant  either,  for  he  breaks  within  five 
minutes,  pointing  as  if  he  meant  to  give  us  a  gallop  to  the  Grange; 
but  a  second  impulse  sends  him  towards  Culmullen.  Again  scent 
proves  most  catchy,  and  we  are  at  fault.  There  is  a  small  patch 
of  "  swedes "  in  front,  and  Goodall  holds  them  over  this,  and 
regains  the  thread,  which  leads  within  a  few  hundred  yards  of 
Culmullen  Covert.  Strange  to  say,  our  fox,  who  had  ample  leisure, 
did  not  enter  it,  but  turned  sharp  round,  crossed  a  lane-way,  and 
appeared  verging  back  to  his  old  haunt.  A  fault  again  !  but  'tis 
only  momentary.  And  now  for  ten  minutes  or  fifteen  the  hounds 
carry  a  fair  head  as  they  cross  a  fine  bit  of  wide  vale,  watered  by 
a  brook  or  two ;  but  as  we  rise  Mullagh  Hill,  with  Kilmore 
rectory  on  our  right,  scent  almost  disappears,  though,  if  ever  fox 
ran  over  scent-retaining  pastures,  they  were  before  us  here.  A 
road  meets  us  now ;  it  is  getting  duskish ;  good-byes  are  said ; 
arrangements  made  for  Enfield  to-morrow  with  the  Kildare  hounds, 
or  "  Lost  London  "  with  the  Ward  Union  ;  when  the  pack,  who 
won't  leave  a  big  pasture  they  are  in,  suddenly  begin  running  again, 
taking  the  line  past  Mr.  M'Gerr's  house,  on  to  a  road.  Here 
another  parting  of  the  few  left  occurs.  But  again  the  pack  will 
not  be  denied ;  one  or  two  couple  have  made  out  the  line  on  the 


MISS    PERSSE    OF    MOYOJDE    CASTLE 


HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A.  129 

far  side  of  the  road,  and  are  hunting  away  gaily.  Colistoun 
Covert  is  within  a  field  or  two  now ;  but  darkness  is  overtaking  us 
apace,  and  the  kennels  are  many  miles  distant,  so  at  last  the  pack 
is  stopped.  This  run,  an  incomplete  edition  of  the  letter  S,  would 
have  been  charming  had  it  only  been  done  at  a  better  pace  and 
with  fewer  breaks,  for  a  better  line  of  country  could  not  easily  be 
found.  Mr.  Waller  has  to  deplore  the  loss  of  a  very  good  bitch, 
Wishful,  who  was  ridden  on. 

The  staple  of  hunting  "gup"  to-day  was  of  an  extremely  quick 
gallop  yesterday  with  this  pack,  run  in  a  fog  so  dense  that,  unless 
you  were  almost  on  top  of  the  hounds,  you  had  no  chance  of 
seeing  the  fun.  I  was  not  out  myself,  and  can  only  state  that 
there  seemed  a  most  unanimous  consensus  that  it  was  "  a  real 
quick  thing,"  and  that  it  took  a  good  horse  to  stay  with  hounds  at 
all.  It  was  somehow  on  this  wise.  After  some  rather  meaningless 
hunting  round  Lord  Darnley's  good  gorse  of  Rathmore,  a  move 
was  made  to  Tullaghnogue  Gorse,  from  which  the  pack  issued 
forth  "tied"  to  a  good  fox.  Some  sixteen  or  seventeen  started 
on  very  fair  terms  with  the  flying  hounds ;  hardly  half-a-dozen 
survived  to  the  first  check,  which  was  at  the  end  of  seventeen 
or  eighteen  minutes  as  I  hear,  Mr.  Kearsley  having  held 
a  front  place  all  through  the  scurry,  with  Mr.  Hone  and  perhaps 
another,  Lord  Langford  having  been  equally  efficacious  in  cutting 
out  the  work  till  his  good  and  gallant  grey,  landing  on  a  stone  or 
stump  of  a  tree,  rolled  right  over  him,  with  a  stiffening  effect  which 
must  have  made  hunting  the  next  day  rather  a  mixed  delight. 
A  noble  lord,  whose  experience  extends  over  a  great  many  of  the 
best  packs  in  England  and  Ireland,  told  me  that  in  his  line  he  met 
one  impracticable  place,  from  which  he  had  to  turn  away,  and  that 
the  pause  in  selecting  a  more  negotiable  spot  cost  him  the 
remainder  of  the  gallop.  The  fox,  it  seems,  ran  to  a  high  bank 
near  Medestown,  and  was  wholly  unaccounted  for  afterwards,  the 
theory  being  that  he  had  run  his  foil  back  and  then  lain  down. 
The  Kildare  run  of  the  same  date  was  unmarred  by  fog — a  fortu- 

K 


130  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

nate  circumstance,  as  one  of  the  actors  informed  me  that,  between 
wire  and  bog,  the  track  was  anything  but  fascinating ;  a  very  fine 
show  of  foxes  in  the  Nine-tree  Hill  country  was  the  pleasanter  side 
of  the  picture. 

The  show  of  horseflesh  at  Summerhill  to-day  was  very  attractive. 
Weight-carriers  are  getting  very  scarce  in  Ireland,  but  Captain 
Kearney  and  Messrs.  Brown,  Dunne,  Campbell,  Carew,  and  a  few 
others,  seem  to  have  found  the  desideratum.  There  was  a  smart 
Blood  Royal  four  year-old  out,  who  was  fencing  with  all  the 
hereditary  talent  of  that  strain,  while  Captain  Low  was  on  another 
son  of  Conjuror's,  "  The  Crow,"  who  is  almost  a  fac-simile  of  the 
Duke  of  Connaught's  Lawyer  horse,  and  as  clever,  though  perhaps 
not  quite  so  powerful.  A  lady,  Mrs.  Drake  (I  hope  I  may  be 
pardoned  naming  names  :  it  is  a  rare  hunting  one),  who  was  riding 
a  very  well-trained  bay  horse,  seemed  thoroughly  at  home  in  the 
biggest  part  of  the  country.  Mr.  Murphy,  of  The  Grange,  rides 
13  st.  hunters,  almost  as  well  known  in  the  chasing  world  as  in 
the  hunting,  and  his  grey  mare  of  to-day  was  no  unfit  companion 
for  her  stable  mates  ;  while  a  grey  cob  ridden  by  another 
Mr.  Murphy  was  an  admirable  performer,  and  so  was  Captain 
C.  Ponsonby's  brown  mare. 

I  hear  Lord  Waterford  has  been  showing  his  field  very  good 
sport  lately,  while  Sir  David  Roche's  thirty-five  minutes  without 
a  check  from  Fedamore  Gorse  is  among  the  best  recent  triumphs 
"  down  south." 

On  Saturday,  the  gth  inst,  the  Kildare  hounds — to  whom 
Saturday  ever  brings  sport,  seeing  that  it  draws  them  from  hill 
to  dale,  from  gravel  to  rich  loam — met  at  the  little  village  of  New- 
town,  near  Enfield,  the  outer  edge  on  the  west  of  their  domain, 
here  bounded  by  Meath  eastern  and  western.  Cappagh  Gorse,  the 
first  draw,  proved  for  once  false  to  its  holding  traditions,  though 
a  fox  had  evidently  left  it  recently.  Not  so  Ballycaghan,  the  next, 
whose  huge  area  seemed  lined  with  foxes.  The  difficulty  of 
ejecting  the  hunted  one  from  so  extensive  a  covert  is  not  small, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  131 

and  the  master  was  much  plagued  by  late  comers,  (I,  too,  cry  mea 
culfa),  who  blocked  the  best  avenues  for  departure.  At  length, 
when  every  one  was  half  frozen,  he  broke  away—  a  beautiful  rich 
red  fox — and  gave  us  for  our  preliminary  fence,  before  we  could 
get  to  the  park,  a  very  wide  bank  and  ditch  to  jump.  Once  over 
this,  it  looked  odds  on  a  race  to  Lara  or  Courtown  ;  but  something 
made  our  fox  turn  back  suddenly,  and  nothing  came  of  it  but 
another  long  stand  at  ease  while  the  hounds  were  dusting  him 
in  the  gorse.  At  last  who-whoop  sounded  gratefully  on  the  ear, 
and  now  we  knew  we  were  bound  to  Courtown,  whose  extensive 
but  thin  plantations  always  harbour  foxes,  though  they  are  easily 
scared  away  by  such  sounds  as  an  army  of  hunting  men  two  or 
three  hundred  strong  would  make  clattering  down  the  road  on 
their  way  to  the  draw.  To  prevent  this,  Mr.  Mansfield  implored 
the  field  not  to  hurry  on  in  spoil-sport  fashion  before  the  pack ;  but 
Courtown  and  its  hospitalities  lay  in  front,  and  I  think  the  brandy 
of  cherries  and  the  wine  of  Xeres  were  master  passions  in  not 
a  few  breasts  just  at  that  moment.  "  All's  well  that  ends  well,"  and 
the  draw  of  Courtown  plantations  had  a  goodjinate.  Three  parts 
were  drawn  in  mute  silence  and  expectation.  At  last  there  is 
a  prelude  to  the  overture.  "  He  breaks  !  he  breaks  ! "  with  Lara 
or  Straffan  in  his  mind's  eye.  "  He's  back  !  he's  back  ! "  but  not 
for  long,  for  ecce  fox  racing  away  over  the  Courtown  Park  lands, 
and  with  head  turned  westward,  giving  us  to  imagine  we  were  to 
gallop  back  to  Ballycaghan.  The  first  fence  proves  unlucky 
to  some,  and  there  are  one  or  two  stiff  up-banks  next.  Then  our 
fox  turns  leftwards,  over  those  pleasant  flat  pastures  which  are 
mainly  divided  by  ditches  and  small  banks,  over  which  you  can 
send  your  hunter  at  twenty  miles  an  hour.  A  very  pleasant  phase 
of  hunting  was  this  sailing  away  over  small  brooks  and  shingles 
with  the  conviction  that  the  far  side  was  "  all  right."  We  are  now 
within  a  few  fields  of  Laragh  Covert.  We  have  crossed  a  couple 
of  by-roads,  if  not  three,  and  now  there  is  a  slight  pause  by  some 
cottages — Baltracey  is  the  name  of  the  place,  I  believe ;  the 


i32  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

hounds  have  rather  overshot  the  mark.  Will  Freeman  has  them 
right  in  less  time  than  I  take  to  write  the  fact,  and  from  this  point 
we  hunt  on  steadily  and  at  fair  pace  parallel  to  the  Naas  and 
Kilcock  road,  when  our  fox  again  inclines  to  the  right  slightly. 
We  cross  one  of  those  drainage  canals  which,  fortunately  for  us, 
have  soft,  sloping  sides,  down  which  we  slide  into  the  watercourse, 
to  climb  up  the  far  side ;  and  now,  when  we  look  up  to  take  bear- 
ings, we  find  ourselves  passing  a  semi-vacant  gaunt-looking  house, 
which  we  know  to  be  within  a  few  hundred  yards  of  Mount 
Armstrong.  Two  or  three  furzy  fields  (Hodgestown  is  the  local 
name)  and  as  many  fences  bring  us  to  the  outskirts  of  Sir  Gerald 
Aylmer's  fine  park  of  Donadea.  There  is  a  lodge  gate  a  few  score 
yards  down  the  road,  which  will  bring  you  down  a  long  straight 
avenue  to  the  castle  woods.  If  you  would  fain  see  the  end  of 
a  good  straight  fox,  who-whoop,  they  have  him  !  They  have 
earned  him  well,  for  scent  has  not  been  breast  high,  and  I  don't 
think  they  can  have  run  him  less  than  eight  or  nine  miles  from 
find  to  finish.  I  talked  just  now  of  two  or  three  hundred  horse- 
men. I  do  not  think  there  were  nearly  so  many  out  to-day, 
though  the  field  was  large,  and  there  were  not  a  few  visitors  from 
Limerick,  Cork,  Dublin,  Meath,  Gal  way,  etc.,  at  the  rendezvous. 
Lord  Oranmore  represented  the  latter  county,  Mr.  Rose  did  the 
same  for  Limerick.  Grey  was  decidedly  the  winning  colour  to-day. 
Sir  J.  Higginson  went  in  his  old  form  on  a  grey  ;  Mr.  R.  Kennedy 
was  on  a  grey,  so  was  Mr.  W.  Blacker ;  but  few  greys  or  hunters 
of  any  colour  could  have  performed  more  beautifully  than  Major 
Dent's  fine  lengthy  grey  and  Mr.  Robertson's  well-known  hunter 
of  the  same  hue.  The  Hon.  Captain  Rowley,  Mr.  A.  Macneil, 
and  Mr.  Chapman  represented  Meath  in  the  fore  front  of  the  fray, 
and  Captain  R.  Mansfield  kept  his  place  very  near  the  pack  all 
through.  The  Inniskillings  were  in  great  force  and  form,  and  so 
were  the  3rd  Dragoons. 

The  Coolattin  Club  is  a  small  and  very  select  corporation, 
devoted  mainly  to  whist  and  fox-hunting,  while  French  cookery 


HIBERNIA   YEN  A  TIC  A.  133 

and  matured  Chateau  Margaux  are  not  within  the  table  of  pro- 
hibitions. Lord  Fitzwilliam  houses  the  club,  and  gives  them  other 
privileges.  Carlow  and  Wexford  find  foxes.  The  club  was  in 
session  last  week,  but  so  far  have  not,  as  I  learnt,  had  much  sport. 
Tuesday,  their  opening  day,  was  diluvial. 

The  meet  of  the  Queen's  County  hounds  on  Friday,  at  Mary- 
boro'  Heath,  led  to  little  sport :  the  effervescing  loyalty  of  the 
populace,  which  broke  into  shouting  and  hurrahing,  was  fatal  to 
finding  foxes  early.  Cremorgan  in  the  afternoon  held  as  usual, 
but  scent  was  catchy,  and  one  or  two  hard-riding  men  would  not 
let  them  work  out  their  problem,  so  the  sport  was  not  of  a  high 
order. 

There  is  again  breach  and  interruption  of  hunting  arrangements 
in  Kildare,  owing  to  the  sadly  premature  death  of  Mr.  Archbold, 
of  Davidstown,  last  Saturday,  after  a  very  short  illness — typhoid 
fever.  Tuesday's  meet  at  the  eighteenth  milestone  is  consequently 
transferred  to  Friday,  while  Wednesday's  fixture  is  for  the  kennels. 

I  recollect  writing  about  a  meet  at  Davidstown,  Mr.  Archbold's 
residence,  last  year.  Few  could  then  have  imagined  that  his 
young  life,  so  full  of  vigour  and  promise,  would  have  terminated 
so  abruptly.  The  mourning  for  Mr.  Archbold — I  do  not  mean 
the  perfunctory  livery  thereof  regulated  by  degrees  of  consan- 
guinity— will  be  very  extensive  among  all  classes,  specially  in  the 
counties  of  Kildare,  Wicklow,  and  Carlow,  where  he  was  best 
known  as  a  landlord,  a  friend,  and  a  neighbour — known  only  to  be 
beloved.  As  a  sportsman  his  loss  will  be  immensely  felt,  for  so 
great  was  his  influence  that  fox  preservation  of  the  strictest 
character  became  a  fashion  and  a  rule  all  over  his  estates.  He 
was  a  fine  rider  to  hounds,  notwithstanding  his  height  and  weight ; 
a  first-rate  judge  of  horses ;  a  naturalist  by  taste,  experiment,  and 
observation  ;  and,  for  the  last  few  seasons  he  was  a  master  of 
harriers.  Sir  John  Esmonde,  another  good  friend  to  foxes  and 
fox-hunting,  died  rather  suddenly  in  Wexford  about  the  same 
time. 


i34  HIBERNIA   YEN  AT  1C  A. 


X. 

Dark,  dreary,  and  dull  was  the  sky, 
With  rain  clouds  the  heavens  were  big. " 


Traps  and  Trappers — West  Meath — Kilbrew — Mr.  Reeves'  oyster  beds  and 
harriers — The  Marquis  of  Ormonde — Straflan  Bridge. 

THERE  has  been  no  scarcity  of  foxes  this  year  in  Ireland,  with 
a  few  notable  exceptions.  The  cubbing  season  was  not  a  blood- 
thirsty one,  for  the  simple  reason  that  scent  for  several  weeks 
was  at  zero,  but  no  master  of  hounds  that  I  have  heard  of  com- 
plained of  not  finding  game,  even  if  he  was  denied  the  capability 
of  hunting  it.  Since  cubs  attained  their  majority  the  course  of 
hunting,  unlike  that  of  true  love,  has  run  in  the  smoothest 
of  currents,  and  though  I  know  of  two  blank  days,  I  can  hardly 
localize  a  third  in  the  whole  of  hunting  Ireland.  The  season  was 
most  favourable  to  vixendom  ;  when  foxes  were  wanted  they  were 
turned  down,  and  the  aliens  or  naturalized  vulps  thrive  like  the 
natives,  and  yet  the  trapping  curse,  like  the  trail  of  the  serpent,  is 
over  us  all,  and  saps  fox-hunting  in  its  very  foundations.  One  of 
the  worst  features  of  the  case  is  this,  that  these  vulpecidal  engines 
have  now  been  sown  so  broad-cast  over  the  island,  and  familiarity 
has  so  vulgarized  them,  that  many  a  proprietor  of  large  acres,  who 
had  set  a  bad  example  in  bringing  trappers  into  his  park  and 
woodlands,  and  who  subsequently  felt  anxious  to  neutralize  the 
mischief  he  has  done  the  fox-hunting  interest  in  his  county  and 
vicinity,  would  be  unable  to  lay  the  spectre  he  had  invoked,  or  call 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  135 

in  the  traps  which  had  strayed  or  been  stolen  in  the  course  of  his 
raids  on  rabbits.  Under  these  circumstances,  of  course,  there 
is  less  restraint  than  ever  in  the  manner  of  trap  setting.  Farm 
labourers  who  have  tasted  the  sweets  of  hare,  rabbit,  and 
even  pheasant  catching  by  this  simple  and  inexpensive  process, 
will  not  easily  be  induced  to  abandon  it.  The  snare  is  not 
primarily  set  for  "  the  fox  "  save  by  a  few  exasperated  individuals 
who  fancy  they  have  been  overlooked,  perchance,  in  the  distri- 
bution of  fowl  money ;  but  if  the  fox  is  caught,  vice  some  more 
saleable  or  edible  quadruped,  tant pis  for  the  fox ;  he  is  knocked 
on  the  head  and  put  out  of  sight,  while  the  trap  is  reset  in  hopes 
of  better  luck  next  time.  These  observations  are  elicited  by  the 
fact  that  out  of  three  foxes  found  recently  in  the  covert  of  a  well- 
known  fox  presever  on  the  same  date,  two  were  maimed  by  traps, 
and  unable  to  take  their  part  when  hunted  ;  while  the  third  proved 
a  good  straight  runner.  It  is  well  known  that  the  covert  owner  is 
a  foe  to  trapping.  Whence  then  these  tripod  foxes  ?  Simply 
from  traps  being  common  in  the  neighbourhood,  and  in  such 
general  use,  that  foxes  would  be  more  dexterous  than  nature  made 
them  if  they  managed  to  escape  them  altogether.  But  not  only 
are  traps  common  from  the  causes  I  mention ;  they  have  become 
"a  leading  article  "  in  country  shops,  and  it  seems  now  as  natural 
and  as  little  peculiar  to  purchase  a  trap  as  a  hand-saw  or  a  ten- 
penny  nail. 

Let  us  now  glance  at  Western  Meath,  where  it  is  pleasant  to 
find  that  Mr.  Montague  Chapman's  well-directed  zeal  and  energy 
in  the  cause  of  sport  have  not  been  unrewarded. 

On  the  4th  they  met  at  Lord  Greville's  residence,  Clonyn 
Castle,  and  found  three  foxes  in  the  coverts  at  the  back  of  the 
new  castle.  Settling  to  one,  they  followed  him  towards  Drumcree 
into  Mooretown,  where  he  did  not  hang  long,  but  broke  again 
and  almost  retraced  his  steps,  finishing  in  a  rabbit  burrow. 
Kiltullagh  Plantations  held  another,  but  the  hounds  ran  into  him 
almost  immediately.  Another,  found  in  Williamstown  Gorse,  they 


136  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

killed  before  he  could  get  into  Rockview.     A  Reynella  fox  ran  a 
ring  to  Clonlost,  when  darkness  stopped  hunting. 

On  the  yth  (Thursday)  they  were  at  Baronston,  and  found 
three  foxes  in  the  Bog  Covert.  One  took  them  past  the  fine 
mansion,  through  the  lands  of  Tristenagh  Abbey  into  Sonna, 
where  he  was  viewed  by  the  new  gate.  The  Plantations  here 
did  not  detain  him  a  moment,  and  he  was  next  forced  through 
Kildollan  Gorse  over  Slanemore,  a  grassy  elevation,  where  the 
pasture  is  old  and  sound,  and  the  going  as  good  as  any  in  West- 
meath.  Here,  however,  as  he  was  passing  Ballyote  Chapel,  a  cur 
dog  came  on  the  scene.  A  long  check  ensued,  and  perhaps  the 
most  promising  run  of  the  season  was  marred.  Frewin  Hill 
Gorse  was  next  drawn.  Here  they  found  at  once,  and  ran 
straight  to  the  shores  of  Lough  Owel,  where  their  fox  wheeled 
to  the  left,  ran  through  Mount  Murray,  and  thence  made  Clon- 
hugh,  where  the  earths  were  open,  and  a  good  fox  respited. 

On  the  9th  they  were  at  Moyvaughly,  where  they  found  a  fox, 
who  did  not  stand  up  any  time  before  them.  Mosstown,  which  is 
always  well  preserved,  held  a  brace,  and  the  hounds  went  away 
gaily  with  one,  who  led  them  to  the  top  of  Knockast  Hill,  the 
highest  ground  in  this  neighbourhood,  which  was  smothered  with 
fog  that  seemed  to  kill  scent ;  at  any  rate,  the  fox  was  not 
accounted  for. 

On  the  nth  they  were  at  Drumcree,  the  residence  of  General 
the  Hon.  Leicester  Curzon  Smythe,  whose  good  gorse  (a  reminder 
always  to  myself  of  an  extremely  pleasant  gallop  right  into  Meath) 
has  just  attained  holding  growth  after  having  been  cut.  The  find 
here  was  very  quick,  and  was  followed  by  a  capital  thirty  minutes, 
ending  at  Windtown,  where  the  fox  got  to  ground.  Hopes  Gorse 
held  a  second,  who  started  over  a  beautiful  line  and  ran  nicely 
for  a  couple  of  miles,  when  he  suddenly  disappeared  in  a  coney 
hole,  when  the  odds  seemed  in  favour  of  his  going  on  to  the  hill 
gorse  at  Knock  Ion. 

On  Monday  a  beautifully  clear,  diaphanous  atmosphere  showed 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  137 

everything  in  nature  at  its  very  best,  and  revealed  objects  which 
fog,  haze,  and  rain  clouds  had  obscured  for  months.  The  Ward 
Union  stag-hounds  met  at  Norman's  Grove,  one  of  the  fixtures 
nighest  to  the  metropolis,  some  nine  miles  (Irish)  distant,  and 
the  assemblage  collected  there  was  one  of  the  largest  which  this 
pack  has  had  since  the  season  opened  formally  at  Ashbourne.  All 
Ireland  was  more  or  less  represented  there,  and  though  Meath 
held  out  the  tempting  bait  of  Grange  Geath  Gorse  in  the  forenoon, 
and  Hussey's  Gorse  after  luncheon,  not  a  few  threw  in  their  lot 
with  the  stag,  among  them  Lord  Langford  and  Mr.  A.  Macneil. 
The  Garrison  sent  gunners,  riflemen,  and  staff  men  to  the  fray — red 
soldiers,  blue  soldiers,  and  green — and  Dublin  of  course  poured 
in  a  flood-tide  of  its  sporting  citizens.  Enfield,  who  gave  perhaps 
the  best  gallop  of  the  season  last  year  (in  some  judgments),  was 
the  quarry,  and  he  got  his  liberty  at  Nutstown,  whence  he  bounded 
on  by  the  Caulstown  Brook,  over  the  Dunboyne  road  into  Ballin- 
tray,  thence  by  Priestown  in  a  line  parallel  to  the  Ratoath  and 
Dublin  roads,  across  the  road  by  the  gorse  covert  of  Kilrue,  and 
thence  via  the  Moulden  Bridge  into  Ratoath  village,  where  he  ran 
the  road  for  a  short  time  in  view,  and  many  who  had  gone  well  up 
to  this  point,  and  fancied  the  cream  of  the  day  had  been  fairly 
skimmed,  turned  their  horses'  heads  homewards.  A  few,  how- 
ever, stayed  on  to  the  end,  and  had  a  rattling  finish  up  to 
Bournestown,  the  last  part,  as  I  hear,  being  very  fast  indeed. 
Among  this  division  were  Lord  Clanmorris,  Mr.  D'Arcy,  Mr. 
Hone,  and  Captain  Graves  Sawle.  I  hear  the  timers  made  the 
run  an  hour  and  a  half. 

The  night  which  succeeded  this  beautiful,  soft,  balmy  Monday 
was  memorable  for  one  of  the  heaviest  rainfalls  of  a  watery 
season,  the  gushes  of  rain  seeming  to  be  propelled  from  hydrants. 
"  The  rain  a  deluge  poured  "  in  Ireland  as  in  the  "  Bay  of  Biscay 
O,"  and  fortunate  were  those  who  were  well  housed  during  its 
fury. 

By  eight  or  nine  o'clock  a.m.  of  the  i2th,  all  traces  of  the 


138  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

storm  had  vanished.  True,  flocks  of  sea-gulls,  driven  in  from  the 
coast,  dotted  the  green  fields  and  roads,  and  everything  had  a 
flooded  look,  while  furrows  and  runnels  were  brimming  to  overflow. 
Tuesday  was  "beautifully  mild  and  bright,  and  the  sun  shone  out 
gaily.  The  Meath  fixture  for  the  day  was  Kilmoon  Police 
Barrack,  a  solitary  little  fortalice  or  block  house,  in  a  wide  green 
valley,  bounded  by  the  gentlest  of  grassy  elevations.  It  is  some 
fifteen  or  sixteen  miles  (English)  from  Dublin,  not  quite  so  much 
from  Navan,  a  long  distance  from  town  or  railway  station  ;  so  that 
there  was  little  of  that  miscellaneous  crowd  which  curiosity  and 
a  fine  day  muster  whenever  a  popular  hunting  fixture  is  very 
accessible  from  a  capital  by  rail  or  road.  But,  on  the  other  hand, 
it  was  far  from  a  small  gathering.  Louth  sent  many  of  her  sons 
and  daughters  thither  (admirably  mounted,  too) ;  Meath  turned 
out  strong ;  while  among  the  visitors  were  Captain  and  the  Hon. 
Mrs.  Candy.  Time,  however,  fails  me  to  tell  of  the  beauty  and 
fashion  congregated  in  this  lonely  wayside  spot,  now  bright  with 
colour  and  full  of  life  and  motion  ;  of  Mrs.  Dunville's  indefatigable 
and  charming  pair  of  bays  ;  of  a  sporting  tandem  ;  of  a  small 
string  of  thoroughbreds  owned  by  Messrs.  Saurin  and  Reynolds ; 
for  we  are  under  way  already  to  a  small  stick  covert,  with  a  little 
bit  of  plantation  at  one  end,  on  the  side  of  a  grassy  hill,  which, 
though  not  covering  very  much  more  than  a  rood,  has  always 
been  full  when  I  have  happened  to  see  it  drawn.  To-day  was  not 
doomed  to  be  exceptional.  After  a  very  little  forcing,  a  fox  broke 
away  in  the  Ashbourne  direction,  running  straight  for  a  short 
distance,  when  he  inclined  to  the  left,  and  was  presently  lost, 
giving  us  to  understand  very  plainly  that  scent  was  uncommonly 
coy  to-day.  A  second  fox  had  gone  away  from  the  faggots  in 
another  direction ;  but  it  was  no  use  dragging  after  him,  so  the 
task  before  us  was  to  get  back  into  the  lane-way  by  which  we  had 
come  into  the  covert  field.  A  thorny  up-bank,  which  required  a 
hunter's  instinct  where  to  place  hind  and  fore  legs,  interposed 
itself,  and  afforded  a  good  deal  of  excitement  and  fun ;  but  at  last 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  139, 

we  are  in  the  aforesaid  lane-way,  and  trotting  on  to  the  wooded 
height  of  Kilbrew,  on  the  far  side  of  which,  by  a  well-known 
brook,  lies  another  stick  covert,  which  I  think  Mr.  Waller  only 
made  last  season,  and  which  we  found  well  tenanted  on  the  last 
occasion.  How  many  it  held  to-day  is  to  me  an  unknown  number. 
We  went  off  with  one  over  huge  grass  pastures  in  the  direction  of 
Reisk  Gorse  first,  when  he  turned  to  the  right,  and  gave  us  the 
benefit  of  a  lane  for  nearly  a  mile ;  then  he  went  through  the 
grove  and  shrubberies  of  Green  Park,  turned  once  more  down 
the  vale,  and,  I  should  think,  joined  his  scared  brethren  in 
Kilbrew ;  at  any  rate,  after  a  mile  he  was  given  up,  and  Corbalton 
Woods  were  now  the  scene  of  exploration — a  quick  find  in  the 
wood  next  the  Navan  road,  a  canter  across  the  park ;  another  for 
some  distance  along  the  Dunshaughlin  road  sidings,  then  a  mile 
or  so  more  to  the  right  of  Corbalton,  and  that  is  all  I  can  say  of 
the  day's  performance,  which  certainly  was  most  unequal  to  the 
grand  theatre  that  witnessed  it. 

Is  the  Turkish  question  likely  to  lead  to  a  solution  of  the 
oyster  difficulty  ?  Is  the  Danube  to  enrich  us  with  sturgeon  flesh 
and  caviar  ?  The  lines  of  Virgil  occur  as  I  ponder  these  things : 

"  Quam  quibus  in  patriam  ventosa  per  gequora  vectis, 
Pontus  et  ostriferi  fauces  tentantur  Abydi." 

Had  the  bride  of  Abydos  an  oyster  bed  for  her  dowry  ?  or  had  the 
Roman  patricians  eaten  them  all  ?  I  would  transfer  the  reader's 
mental  eye  to  the  banks  of  the  Shannon,  and  by  a  rural  burying- 
place  where  a  head-stone  tells  the  tragic  fate  of  the  Colleen  Bawn. 
Here  Mr.  Carey  Reeves,  rich  already  in  salmon  weirs,  has  enriched 
his  foreshores  with  well-cropped  oyster  beds  of  the  green-fin 
species,  which,  strange  to  say,  are  much  affected  by  the  gastronome 
in  Ireland  and  France,  while  his  brother  contemns  them  in 
England.  There  are  also  some  importations  of  oysters  from 
Arcachon,  but  the  green-fin  bivalve  is  his  staple.  Along  these 
banks  of  the  great  tidal  river  roam  many  good  stout  hares ;  and, 


1 40  HIBERNIA   YEN  A  TIC  A. 

as  fox-hunting  does  not  flourish  much  in  the  county  Clare,  Mr. 
Reeves  finds  his  useful  pack  of  harriers  attended  by  large  fields — 
as  for  instance  on  the  yth  inst,  when  a  goodly  company,  com- 
prising Mr.  and  Mrs.  Reeves,  Mrs.  Phelps  and  her  boy,  Mr. 
E.  Kelly,  Mr.  J.  Bennett,  Mr.  O'Donnell,  Major  Gore,  Mr.  J. 
O'Donnell,  Mr.  Bulger,  and  Mr.  Burke,  etc.,  had  a  capital  run 
from  Tiervarna  by  Burrane  House  and  Knock  Wood ;  the  last 
part  extremely  good,  nearly  three  miles  without  pause,  and  two 
more  gallops  afterwards,  less  brilliant,  though  a  kill  crowned  the 
last  from  Carandota. 

On  the  1 3th  the  Kildare  hounds  had  a  quasi  by-day  at  the 
Kennels,  which  are  under  the  shadow  of  the  palace  which 
Strafford  erected  for  himself,  now  in  ruins,  but  ruins  which  attest 
the  "  thoroughness  "  of  the  planner.  Though  a  by-day,  and  out 
of  the  regular  roster — which,  as  I  remarked  in  my  last  letter,  was 
interrupted  by  the  death  of  Mr.  Archbold — it  was  notified  to  all 
the  members  of  the  hunt  by  cards,  to  the  public  by  the  voice  of 
the  press.  This  circumstance,  and  the  central  position  of  Naas, 
drew  a  very  large  concourse  to  the  meeting-point;  H.R.H.  the 
Duke  of  Connaught,  attended  by  his  equerry,  Captain  M.  Fitz- 
gerald, being  among  the  visitors  of  the  day — a  list  which  also 
included  Lords  Oranmore  and  Clanmorris,  the  Hon.  T.  Scott, 
Captain  Graves  Sawle,  Mr.  A.  Macneil,  Mr.  Skeffington  Smythe, 
Mr.  Rose,  several  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards  and  Inniskillings, 
of  the  Royal  Horse  Artillery,  yth  Dragoon  Guards,  and  4th  Regi- 
ment of  the  line.  I  have  seen  much  larger  fields  on  similar 
occasions,  but  there  were  quite  enough  to  mar  sport  or  to  enjoy  it, 
if  the  elements  of  sport  had  only  been  forthcoming. 

Osberstown  Gorse,  to  which  I  have  before  introduced  your 
readers,  looked  as  large  and  luxuriant  as  ever.  The  flat  country 
round  was  much  more  suggestive  of  snipe-shooting  than  hunting, 
after  our  recent  watery  experiences,  but  within  the  inclosure 
drainage  had  made  the  fox's  haunt  dry,  and  comfortable,  and 
warm.  The  hounds  soon  told  us  of  one  at  home,  and,  after 


HIBERNIA    V EN  ATI C A.  141 

much  bullying,  a  splendid  specimen  of  his  race,  of  the  richest 
mahogany  hue,  and  white-tagged  as  to  his  brush,  emerged  into 
the  open,  but  after  a  very  brief  excursion  returned  to  his  strong- 
hold, to  be  again  expelled  after  a  long  similar  process.  Another 
excursion  towards  Old  Town  followed,  when,  scared  by  some 
object  or  other  on  the  canal  bank — we  may  imagine  a  native 
bargee — our  fox  ran  the  gauntlet  of  the  field,  while  one  or  two 
vainly  endeavoured  to  cut  him  off  from  the  gorse,  but  he  made 
good  his  vantage-ground.  After  another  half-hour  of  vain  effort 
to  force  him  into  the  open  a  third  time,  he  was  given  up,  while 
we  crossed  the  Liffey  by  a  ford,  and  drew  up  at  Gingerstown 
Gorse,  an  unenclosed  wild  patch  of  furze ;  and  having  explored 
it  as  well  as  the  neighbouring  covert  of  Castle  Keely  fruitlessly, 
we  were  sent  on  to  Landenstown,  where  search  was  equally  futile. 
Bella  Villa  held  not,  and  Kerdiffstown,  the  never-failing,  failed 
us  in  our  hour  of  need,  while  Palmerstown,  its  neighbour,  followed 
suit.  The  trail  of  the  serpent  may  have  been  over  them,  the  trail 
of  the  fox  was  not ;  by  this  time  light  was  waning,  and  a  general 
dispersion  took  place.  Mr.  Mansfield  lost  a  good  servant's  horse 
near  Osberstown,  who  broke  his  leg  in  galloping  into  a  blind 
ditch.  To-day's  proceedings  reminded  me  of  the  still-existing 
custom  in  England  of  beating  the  bounds  of  a  parish.  We  beat 
the  bounds,  I  should  think,  of  several.  This  black-letter  day  is 
the  first  serious  check  which  the  Kildare  hounds  have  experienced 
this  season. 

The  Newbridge  harriers  had,  I  hear,  a  very  good  thirty  minutes 
last  Monday  from  Mr.  Coffey's  lands,  at  Faircross,  to  Silliot  Hill 
Gorse,  with  an  outlying  fox,  who  took  his  pursuers  over  a  trying 
line,  which  weeded  out  all  but  some  three  or  four  sportsmen, 
among  whom  were  the  huntsman,  Mr.  Knox,  R.H.A.,  and  Mr. 
Medlicott. 

Sport  in  Louth  has  been  of  a  most  mediocre  order  during  the 
last  ten  days  or  so.  Thus,  on  the  5th,  they  visited  Duffy's  Cross, 
and  found  plenty  of  foxes  in  Corballis,  but  between  getting  headed 


1 42  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

and  so  on,  they  yielded  no  sport.  Bragganstown  furnished  a  brace, 
one  of  whom  gave  only  a  ringing  pursuit. 

On  the  yth,  meeting  at  Townley  Hall,  Dowth  Hall  was  the 
first  draw,  and  it  produced  a  brace  of  foxes,  who  got  to  ground 
very  soon.  Townley  Hall  and  Mellifont  were  empty  to-day. 

On  the  Qth  they  were  at  Barmeath,  which  did  not  hold  either 
a  fox  or  foxes,  neither  did  several  gorses  about  Johnstown.  A 
wild  gorse,  however,  near  Drumcar,  was  tenanted.  The  fox  ran 
into  the  park,  and  got  to  ground  near  the  house.  Charleville, 
after  this,  turned  out  a  smart  fox,  who  ran  for  seventeen  minutes 
into  Williamstown,  when  he,  too,  got  to  ground. 

I  fancy  "These  Bonds,"  in  esse  or  posse,  real  or  simulated,  have 
rather  stayed  the  plague  of  testimonials  from  which  we  in  Ireland 
have  suffered  infinitely  less  than  you  did  on  your  side  of  the  ditch. 
Testimonials  in  Ireland  have  for  the  most  part  been  genuine 
embodiments  of  gratitude,  admiration,  or  esteem  ;  or,  perhaps,  all 
three  combined.  Hence  it  was  a  pleasure  to  your  scribe  to  record 
last  year  the  presentation  of  a  handsome  piece  of  plate  by  the 
Curraghmore  hunt  to  the  Marquis  and  Marchioness  of  Waterford. 
It  is  an  equally  agreeable  task  to  tell  this  season  of  the  gratitude 
of  the  members  of  the  Kilkenny  Hunt  to  the  Marquis  of  Ormonde, 
which  found  expression  this  week  in  a  congratulatory  address  on 
his  marriage  with  the  Lady  Elizabeth  Grosvenor,  and  took  con- 
crete form  in  a  beautifully  modelled  golden  fox — the  symbol  of 
the  royal  sport,  which,  but  for  the  noble  marquis's  purse  and 
prestige,  would  very  probably  have  become  an  unknown  art  in 
the  county  of  its  birth  (in  Ireland).  It  is  no  secret  that  Lord 
Ormonde's  liberality  tided  the  Kilkenny  Hunt  Club  over  financial 
difficulties  which  looked  very  menacing  at  one  time.  It  is  pleasant 
to  find  that  recent  success  has  not  dulled  the  recollection  of  good 
deeds.  The  Marquis  of  Waterford  read  the  address.  The  pre- 
sentation took  place  in  the  picture  gallery  of  the  castle,  where  a 
long  line  of  ancestral  Butlers  illustrate  the  history  of  Ireland, 
which  they  often  moulded.  The  Kilkenny  hounds,  whose  tri- 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  143 

umphal  progresses  I  have  frequently  recorded,  had,  I  hear,  a 
bright  day  on  Wednesday  last,  when  a  good  fox  took  them  from 
Garryricken  (a  covert  of  Lord  Ormonde's),  by  Killmory  and  Nine- 
mile  House,  through  Butler's  Wood,  on  to  the  foot  of  Sleivenamon 
Hill,  where  pursuit  was  stopped.  Another  run  from  Davis's 
Gorse,  though  far  less  straight,  ended  in  a  kill.  "  The  Rock  "  on 
Friday  revealed  a  good  supply  of  foxes,  who  will  probably  give  a 
good  account  of  themselves  by-and-by,  though  their  education  is 
only  inchoate  at  present. 

The  on  dit  is  that  the  Earl  of  Clonmel  has  accepted  the 
presidency  of  the  Kildare  hounds,  which  would  be  only  a  case 
of  interrupted  succession,  his  father  having  mastered  this  pack 
long  and  successfully.  Venerie  and  woodcraft  are  in  this  family 
a  tradition.  Among  those  who  have  suffered  severely  in  limb 
in  their  pursuit  of  mimic  war  is  Mr.  J.  O'Donnell,  of  Trugh 
Castle,  Limerick,  who,  I  regret  to  learn,  sustained  a  compound 
fracture  of  his  left  arm  and  dislocation  of  both  joints  when 
hunting  with  Sir  David  Roche's  hounds  at  Balinagarde.  Mr. 
Morrogh's  stud  of  hunters  were  sold  on  Thursday  last  in  Dublin  ; 
but  it  is  not  impossible  that  the  end  of  the  season  may  see  Mr. 
Morrogh  riding  again,  as  his  broken  leg  is  doing  wonderfully  well. 

"Water,  water  everywhere"  (I  cannot  add  "and  never  a  drop  to 
drink,"  for  the  country  I  write  of  is  Ireland,  and  Ireland  has  never 
hitherto  suffered  from  a  lack  of  potables) — brooks  overflowing 
their  banks  ;  pastures  turned  into  mere ;  the  sidings  of  the  roads, 
where  not  under  water,  in  a  semi-quagmire  condition,  as  one  sees 
a  well-trampled  fair  green  become  after  a  few  hours  of  rain  and 
bullocks  ;  but  there  is  little  to  wonder  at,  for  at  the  covert  side 
to-day  there  was  unanimity  of  opinion  on  one  subject  at  least — that 
no  one  had  ever  been  out  in  heavier  or  more  continuous  rain  in 
these  latitudes  than  to-day  !  Vain  were  leggings,  vain  were  covert 
coats.  As  in  fences,  so  in  wraps  and  devices  to  keep  out  rain, 
there  is  always  some  weak  or  unguarded  spot  through  which  the 
insidious  moisture  is  soon  found  percolating ;  and  it  is  almost 


i44  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

impossible  to  watch  or  guard  the  entire  man  in  such  a  downpour 
as  to-day.  Why,  in  an  hour  tops  were  as  full  of  water  as  they 
could  be,  each  foot  enjoying  the  benefit  of  a  cold  tub  for  hours. 
I  once  recollect  a  very  smart  sportsman,  whose  get-up  was  a  thing 
of  beauty,  telling  a  field  who  were  condoling  with  him  on  having 
to  ride  home  a  long  distance,  after  he  and  his  horse  had  been 
swimming  across  either  a  river  or  canal,  that  his  nether  man  was 
not  even  damp  ;  "  for,  you  see,  my  boots  and  breeches  fit  so  very 
perfectly  that  it  is  mechanically  impossible  that  a  drop  could  get 
in."  No  one  dare  affirm  anything  of  the  kind  here.  Men, 
horses,  and  even  the  few  ladies  who  ventured  out,  had  that 
poulemouillee  look  as  if  they  had  been  swimming  rivers  and  canals 
for  some  time.  My  tale  is  of  the  Kildare  hounds  at  Straffan 
Bridge  on  Saturday,  the  i6th  inst. — a  beautiful  scene  in  fine 
weather ;  but,  with  an  horizon  of  the  narrowest  limits,  and  rain 
blackening  the  air,  scant  leisure  remains  to  admire  even  the  most 
picturesque  object.  I  fancy  most  people  smiled  an  internal  smile 
as  they  saw  that  the  hunting  madness  had  been  pervasive  enough 
to  draw  a  very  large  assembly  to  the  meeting-place.  Every  one, 
whatever  they  felt,  put  a  cheerful  courage  on,  and  no  one  railed 
at  the  elements,  no  matter  how  pulpy,  draggled,  and  miserable 
their  sensations  might  have  been.  A  glance  at  our  field  here  ! 
and,  as  the  ladies  have  been  very  heroic  in  braving  not  merely 
the  rain  and  water,  but  their  unbeautiful  effects,  let  us  do  all 
honour  to  le  courage  malheureux.  Five  were  riding  nearly  all  this 
fearful  day  — Lady  Annette  La  Touche,  Mrs.  Adair,  Mrs.  Langrishe, 
Mrs.  Moore,  and  Mrs.  Morris.  Would  that  they  could  have  been 
rewarded  with  a  shprt,  sharp  gallop,  to  carry  away  some  pleasant 
memories  of  this  most  pluviose  day  !  Driving  on  a  hack  car  were 
the  Hon.  Mrs.  Barton  and  Mrs.  St.  Leger  Moore.  The  usual 
Kildare  field  was  increased  by  a  good  many  visitors,  among  whom 
was  his  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught  (attended  by  his 
equerry,  Captain  M.  Fitzgerald),  Mr.  J.  G.  Adair  (from  the  Queen's 
County),  Captain  R.  Barton  (late  9th  Lancers),  Mr.  A.  Macneil  and 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  145 

the  Messrs.  Murphy  from  Meath,  Mr.  Longfield  (who  was  riding 
that  well-known  mare  Miss  Brayley).      Lord  Oranmore  was  on  a 
very  hunting-like  grey,  while  his  second  string  was  a  powerful 
chaser,  who  had  done  well  in  the  land  of  the  Gaul ;  Major  Dent 
on  his  good-looking  grey,  was  the  only  7th  Dragooner.    The  Innis- 
killings  were  represented  by  Captain  Bloomfield  alone,  I  think; 
the  2oth  Hussars  by  Captain  Irwin;  the  Staff  sent  Captains  Sawle, 
Crosbie,  and  De  Montmorency;   the  R.H.A.,  Colonel  Sarsfield 
Green,  Mr.  Knox,  Mr.  Aitken,  and  one  or  two  more.    But  there  is 
no  time  for  observation  or  gossip ;  the  hounds  are  working  through 
Lodge  Park.     In  ten  minutes  or  rather  more  they  found  a  good- 
looking  fox  in  the  long  clump  by  the  river,  whom  they  hunted  from 
plantation  to  shrubbery,  from  shrubbery  to  plantation,  till  a  check 
took  place  in  a  sort  of  nursery  to  the  walled-in  kitchen  garden.     I 
believe  the  vulp  did  his  best  to  break  away ;  but  the  rurals,  who 
could  not  work  on  farms  such  a  day  as  this,  were  in  a  cordon  all 
round,  so  we  lost  all  chance  of  a  run,  and  soon  after  lost  our  fox 
too.    Now  commences  the  only  bit  of  fun  vouchsafed  to  us  hitherto : 
a  large  part  of  the  field  are  inclosed  in  a  place  from  which  the 
only  extrication  is  by  jumping  a  quickset  hedge  and  ditch,  while 
the  remainder  of  the  sporting  world  of  the  day  look   on   and 
criticise.     It  was  rather  amusing  for  five  minutes ;  no  one  actually 
came  down,  though  a  back  or  two  looked  in  danger,  and  hind 
legs  were  dropped  dangerously  short.     The  rest  of  the  day  was 
spent  (or  mis-spent,  according  to  some  versions)  in  drawing  vainly 
about   three   parts   of  Straffan   Coverts,    Castle    Dillon,    Boston, 
Cullen's  Wood,  and  Bishopscourt.     By  about  three  o'clock  rain 
ceased,  and  for  an  hour  nature  looked  lovely,  the  evening  lights 
bringing  out  the  landscape  strongly,  as  varnish  does  on  canvas. 
The  field  meantime  received  constant  accessions  of  sportsmen  and 
sportswomen  who  had  been  sane  enough  to  reserve  themselves  for 
dry  weather. 

The  Friday  previously  was  anxiously  looked  forward  to  by  those 
who  take  their  pleasure  in  the  green  fields  of  Kildare  and  Meath. 


146  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

The  former  pack  met  at  the  eighteen-mile  stone,  and  went  first 
to  Silliott  Hill,  where  a  fox  got  headed,  and  showed  no  sport 
afterwards.  In  Pimchestown  Gorse  they  found  a  second,  who 
was  followed — not  hunted — over  Punchestown  (where  the  brook 
watered  a  gallant  captain  who  has  turned  his  sword  into  an 
agricultural  or  pastoral  implement,  and  also  received  in  its  embrace 
a  very  hard-riding  dragoon) ;  thence  by  Tipper  and  Craddocks- 
town  and  Killashee,  into  Rathascar,  and  so  on  to  Herbertstown, 
whence  pursuit  was  abandoned. 

In  Meath,  Larracor  was  the  meeting-point,  Trotter's  Gorse 
the  first  draw.  It  did  not  hold;  but  Moneymore  gave  them  a  fox, 
who  ran  by  Rathmolyon,  and  was  believed  to  have  jumped  into  a 
conservatory,  for  the  hounds  made  nothing  of  him  afterwards. 

The  Ward  Union  men  had  another  good  day  last  Wednesday, 
the  stag  taking  them  past  Dunshaughlin  from  a  point  near  the 
Ten-mile  Bush  Farm,  and  was  captured  somewhere  near  Drumree. 

While  sport  has  been  so  scant  in  the  midland  and  eastern 
portions  of  the  island,  it  is  refreshing  to  hear  of  something  better 
in  the  south.  Lord  Doneraile's  hounds  met  at  Miltown  Castle  on 
this  occasion,  and,  after  putting  one  fox  to  the  ground  and  walking 
some  distance  over  a  fine  line  with  another,  went  back  to  try 
Boulard  a  second  time,  when  they  got  away  close  to  their  fox,  and 
took  him  by  Curraghglass  and  Gibbings  Grove,  where  he  bent 
round  for  his  original  place,  and  saved  himself  in  a  drain.  Time 
forty-five  minutes ;  horses  beaten  off. 

From  Bowen's  Court,  on  another  day,  they  had  a  sharp 
seventeen  minutes'  race  to  ground,  and  then  a  long  run  with  good 
bits  in  it  right  into  Sir  David  Roche's  country,  the  fox  getting  to 
ground  in  the  main  earths  at  Darragh. 

I  see  the  subject  of  the  increase  or  decrease  of  game  in 
Ireland  is  being  discussed  in  your  columns  just  now,  and  traps 
and  trapping  are  assigned  their  proper  place  in  accounting  for  the 
scarcity  in  some  districts  which  would  otherwise  have  abounded 
in  fur  and  feather.  Hares  are  just  now  the  desideratum,  and  hares 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  147 

are  minishing  most  alarmingly.  As  a  set-off,  however,  I  may 
remark  that  on  Saturday  last,  while  the  Kildare  hounds  were  on 
their  way  to  Irishtown  Gorse,  I  saw  in  one  of  Major  Barton's 
large  pastures  more  hares  than  I  think  I  ever  saw  in  a  single  field 
in  England  or  Scotland. 

The  west  wind  brings  a  tale  of  better  sport  in  the  west  than 
we  have  been  favoured  with  in  the  east  and  midlands.  This  is  an 
epitome  of  Mr.  Burton  Persse's  "  good  things  "  since  his  hounds 
resumed  hunting :  On  the  4th,  twenty-three  minutes,  at  great  pace, 
over  a  fine  line  from  Carra  Gorse,  in  the  Loughrea  country ;  three 
besides  the  master  having  about  the  best  of  it.  On  the  gth,  a 
brilliant  thirty  minutes  over  a  fine  line  from  Castle  Taylor,  and 
a  hunting  run  to  follow.  On  the  izth,  a  good  gallop  in  the  after- 
noon, which  darkness  stopped  in  the  Athenry  country.  On  the 
1 4th  they  were  in  the  Eyre  Court  country,  and  raced  down  a 
fox  from  Chesterfield  Gorse  in  fifteen  minutes,  rolling  him  over  in 
the  open.  A  bad  fox  in  the  evening  gave  them  an  hour  of  slow, 
twisting  hunting.  On  the  i6th  they  found  a  good  fox  at  Raford, 
and  killed  him  in  the  open,  after  a  capital  twenty-five  minutes, 
interrupted  by  only  one  slight  pause ;  while  Carnakelly  set  them 
going  again,  and  gave  the  field  rather  more  than  enough  to  do. 

P.S. — Scent  has  returned  to  our  fields.  The  Kildare  hounds 
had  a  capital  day  from  the  Downshire  on  Monday.  The  Meath 
rejoiced  in  three  good  runs  that  day — forty-six  minutes,  twenty- six 
minutes,  and  twenty-three  minutes,  the  last  ending  in  a  kill.  On 
Tuesday  they  had  one  of  the  most  extraordinary  long  persevering 
pursuits  that  any  pack  ever  enjoyed.  It  began  at  the  Poor-house 
Gorse,  Dunshaughlin,  at  about  11.30  a.m.,  and  finished  with  the 
death  of  the  fox  at  Parsonstown  (not  in  the  King's  County)  at  about 
2.30  p.m.,  having  been,  uninterruptedly  sustained  during  those 
hours  ;  while  bits  of  it  were  fast  enough,  and  it  was  all  over  grass. 
I  must  postpone  details  till  my  next  letter. 


i48  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 


XL 

"Well-nigh  three  hours  the  open  kept, 
As  stout  a  fox  as  ever  slept." 


Stony  Batter  and  mud  batter — Poor-house  Gorse  run — Rathbeggan  stag-ch 
Garradice — United  Cork,  etc.,  etc. 

IF  we  are  to  believe  high  authority,  no  verses  can  live  or  please 
the  public  ear  for  any  length  of  time  that  are  written  by  water- 
bibbers  : 

"  Nulla  placere  diu  nee  vivere  carmina  possunt 
Qua3  scribuntur  aquse  potoribus." 

"  Who  water  drink,  in  water  think ; 
Good  wine's  the  sap  of  poet's  ink." 

And  yet,  all  this  notwithstanding,  the  laureate  of  the  great  games 
of  Greece  tells  us  that  water  is  the  best  thing  out,  apiarov  p*v  vSup. 
Lord  Palmerston's  gloss  upon  this  was  about  on  a  par  with  many 
of  his  witty  and  wise  sayings.  The  story  goes  that  Mr.  Glad- 
stone, who  had  just  returned  from  the  Ionian  Isles,  was  expatiat- 
ing upon  the  "  curious  old  wines,"  strong  of  resin  and  sulphur, 
which  he  had  recently  been  quaffing,  when  his  chief  struck  in 
with  the  remark,  "  Well  !  I  now  can  understand  Pindar's  eulogy 
of  water."  Without  daring  to  detract  one  iota  from  the  great 
element  in  the  composition  of  all  things,  I  may  be  permitted  to 
remark  that  just  now  there  is  far  too  much  en  evidence  for  hunting 
purposes.  The  roads  overflow  with  it;  the  fields  are  partially 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  149 

turned  into  lakes ;  the  pastures,  with  their  beaten-down  grasses, 
look  as  if  a  heavy  roller  had  passed  over  them ;  and  the  grass 
land  in  the  rich  vale  of  Dublin  and  Meath  rides  so  heavy,  that  no 
one  whose  figure  does  not  in  some  measure  resemble  the  New- 
market standard  has  a  chance  of  seeing  the  hounds  if  they  run 
fast  and  long.  How,  in  the  old  O.U.B.C.  days,  one  used  to 
envy  the  Titans  in  flannel  who  pulled  five  and  seven  in  "the 
'Varsity  " ;  how  one  longed  for  their  expanse  of  chest  and  swelling 
biceps  !  Now,  if  one  has  to  ride  at  all,  the  ambition  is  all  the 
other  way.  Oh  that  this  too,  too  solid  flesh  would  melt !  oh  that 
my  millionth  or  billionth  grandsire  (according  to  Darwin)  in 
the  aeons  gone  by  had  transmitted  to  me  the  prehensile  sinewy  legs 
(how  lovely  they  would  look  in  tops  !)  and  the  long,  thin,  flexible 
arms  of  the  Simise  !  But  then  perhaps  the  horse  would  be  too 
slow  for  such  ambitions,  and  a  pterodactyl  would  be  essential  for 
the  requirements  of  scent  and  pace  in  slime.  Footprints  in  the 
sands  of  time,  indeed  !  We  are  daily  making  our  mark  in  the 
pastures  of  green  Erin,  writing  our  characters  too  in  a  fashion 
that  will  last  for  many  a  day.  Mud  fever  and  scarred  legs  have 
of  course  appeared  in  stables,  but  I  do  not  think  the  visitation 
has  been  so  general  or  severe  as  in  former  years ;  perhaps  we 
understand  the  treatment  better  than  of  yore.  If  any  one  is 
ambitious  of  trying  an  experiment  in  mud  baths  and  their  con- 
sequences on  cloth  and  horse's  coat,  I  will  tell  him  the  best  plan 
I  know  of  for  his  operations.  Emerging  from  Arran  Quay  in 
Dublin,  and  facing  northwards,  you  will  in  a  few  hundred  yards 
find  yourself  in  a  street  not  unknown  in  song,  called  "Stoney 
Batter."  A  quarter  of  a  mile  further  will  bring  you  into  com- 
parative ruralism,  and  here  "  mud  batter  "  begins,  and  for  three  or 
four  miles  your  progress  is  through  a  deep  liquid  slush  canal, 
fortunately  not  more  than  a  few  inches  in  depth,  whose  bottom  is 
so  uneven  that  with  every  jolt  of  your  springs  or  peck  of  your 
horse  the  filthy  liquid  flies  upwards,  to  settle  on  coat,  hat,  or  face, 
or  all  three.  This  is  the  main  road  to  Dunboyne,  and  I  believe 


150  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Trim  also.  Those  with  local  knowledge  avoid  this  Mala  Via, 
making  a  considerable  detour  through  the  Phoenix  Park.  Those 
in  a  hurry  to  catch  hounds,  say  at  Dunboyiie  or  Norman's 
Grove,  may  easily  fall  into  the  trap.  For  the  benefit  of  those 
who  like  to  present  one  side  of  their  tops  moderately  clean  at 
a  meet,  and  to  be  recognizable  by  their  acquaintances,  I  mention 
the  abomination. 

Monday,  the  i8th  inst,  was,  in  the  language  of  the  country, 
a  soft  day,  though  I  am  not  sure  that  enough  rain  fell  to  warrant 
the  epithet  fully;  but,  if  not  falling,  it  was  in  suspense,  and  its 
descent  was  little  more  than  a  question  of  hours.  A  small  field 
met  the  Ward  Union  pack  at  Kilrue,  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards 
forming  the  staple  of  the  soldier  element,  and  they  sent  a  coach- 
load; the  red-coats  might  nearly  be  counted  on  one  hand,  and 
the  visitors  did  not  much  exceed  a  score.  Among  them  was 
Lord  Clanmorris  (on  a  racing  chestnut),  Captain  Fitzgerald 
(on  a  young  brown  horse),  Mr.  Murphy  (on  Sapling),' the  Hon. 
Captain  Rowley,  and  Captain  M'Clintock  Bunbury.  The  sport 
was  not  so  good  as  usual.  A  good-looking  red  deer,  enlarged  on 
Mr.  Reid's  land  at  Ballymacoll,  showed  a  strong  penchant  for 
road  work  for  a  bit,  running  short  circles  till  past  Ballintry,  when 
he  struck  off  towards  Mulhuddart,  inclined  slightly  to  the  right  till 
he  reached  a  place  called  "  The  Main,"  and  then  went  off  in  a  bee 
line  till  he  gained  soil  and  sanctuary  at  donee  Bridge,  the  last 
mile  having  been  done  at  good  pace,  and  crossing  a  couple  of  small 
brooks — or  ditches  which  had  the  pretentions  of  brooks  to-day. 
The  stream  at  Clonee  was  in  flood,  and  had  overflowed  its  banks 
considerably,  so  it  was  no  easy  task  to  save  the  quarry,  as 
the  pack  were  swimming  round  him;  and,  even  after  they  had 
been  collected  together  on  terra  firma,  it  took  nearly  half  an  hour, 
two  colley  dogs,  and  a  lasso  to  effect  a  capture.  In  compliance 
with  the  wishes  of  the  farmers,  no  second  deer  was  enlarged. 

The  week  began  well  in  Kildare.  The  county  pack  met  in 
Blessington  village,  when,  notwithstanding  the  invitation  of  a 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  151 

lovely  da)',  which  succeeded  a  night  of  rain,  the  attendance  was 
very  small  indeed.  The  customary  programme  is  to  go  from  the 
main  street  of  Blessington  through  a  spacious  avenue  (which  once 
led  to  a  lordly  mansion  that  the  lava  flood  of  '98  did  not  spare) 
into  Downshire  Park,  a  large  walled-in  grassy  space,  of  which  only 
a  small  portion  is  fringed  by  trees,  where  the  surface  is  broken  up 
into  a  curious  succession  of  hills  and  hillocks,  on  the  slopes  of 
one  of  which  a  gorse  covert  was  planted  long  ago,  and  has  given 
Kildare  a  series  of  as  good  and  famous  runs  as  any  she  embraces 
in  her  area.  This  covert  has  been  cut  down  for  some  time,  and  has 
not  yet  attained  holding  age  or  proportion ;  but  the  spacious  park 
has  many  a  furzy  patch  in  its  extent,  and  these  are  seldom  with- 
out a  fox  or  two.  The  ordinary  routine  was  adhered  to  now; 
the  usual  result  followed — a  fox  turned  up  in  the  park  and  crossed 
the  Naas  road.  The  hounds  followed  him — they  could  not  be 
said  to  drive  or  force  him  along ;  but  as  they  were  on  Slieve  Rhua 
Hill  the  complexion  of  things  changed  for  the  better,  and  from 
this  point  they  sent  their  fox  gaily  along  into  Punchestown  Gorse  in 
the  vale  below.  Here  several  fresh  foxes  jumped  up,  but  the  pack 
stuck  resolutely  to  their  own,  and  forced  him  out  of  the  gorse, 
when  he  ran  rather  by  a  different  line  to  his  first  departure,  keeping 
over  Athgarrett  Hill.  Next  he  crossed  the  Downshire  Park,  and 
ran  through  the  gorse  there  till  he  reached  the  Blessington  road. 
Here  he  turned  back  into  the  park,  and  got  into  a  sewer,  from 
which  he  issued  presently  (not  bolted),  and  was  rolled  over  close 
to  the  town  of  Blessington.  Strangely  enough,  a  second  fox 
issued  very  soon  after  from  the  same  sewer ;  so  we  may  hope 
non  deficit  alter,  to  run  as  good  a  chase  when  wanted  by-and-by.  I 
do  not  know  the  time  of  the  gallop  up  to  Punchestown,  the 
first  stage ;  the  return  or  second  stage  occupied  forty-five  minutes. 
The  line  was  a  grassy  one,  and,  the  soil  being  light,  it  rode  quite 
unaffected  by  the  recent  rainfall. 

On  the  same  day  the  Meath  hounds  met  at  Brittas,  and  had 
forty-six  minutes  thence  via  Robertstown — twenty-five  minutes  very 


152  HIBERNIA    V EN  ATI  C A. 

good  from  the  second  covert  drawn — and  twenty-three  from 
Farrenalcock  Gorse,  killing  their  fox.  A  Leicestershire  man  who 
was  out  told  me  the  country  and  flying  fences  reminded  him  much 
of  that  paradise  of  hunting  men  and  women. 

On  Tuesday,  the  igth,  a  rather  limited  field  met  the  Meath 
hounds  at  the  ancient  village  of  Dunshaughlin,  whose  surroundings 
and  historical  traditions  I  alluded  to  in  a  recent  letter.  Like 
Mr.  Gummidge,  Dunshaughlin  had  seen  better  days  ;  and  brighter 
hunting  days  than  the  present  had  beamed  on  it — for  the  array  is 
sparse  enough,  considering  the  character  of  the  country  and  the 
facilities  for  reaching  it.  The  cause  is  not  far  to  seek.  His 
Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught  was  the  guest  of  the 
yth  Dragoons  last  night,  in  Newbridge  Barracks ;  the  Royal 
Horse  Artillery  also  entertained  a  number  of  hunting  men ; 
and  we  may  be  quite  sure  that  the  staff  in  the  Curragh  Camp 
are  opening  hospitable  arms  to  other  hunting  guests,  and  stretch- 
ing their  stables  to  the  utmost  limits  of  expansion  to  put  up  their 
hunters.  The  soldiers  are  the  true  descendants  of  the  Knights 
Hospitallers,  and  when  hunting  (the  image  of  war,  you  know) 
is  in  question,  huts  and  barracks,  like  Aladdin's  wonderful  lamp, 
are  made  to  furnish  everything  that  is  good,  genial,  and  comfort- 
ing to  the  spirit  and  flesh  of  mortal.  These  facts  will  account 
for  the  absence  of  many  from  the  ranks  in  Dunshaughlin  (let 
me  duly  acknowledge  the  hospitable  provocation  which  nearly 
made  me  a  deserter) ;  while  peradventure  lots  of  hunting 
"  casuals "  prefer  the  easily  reached  Newbridge  and  its 
surroundings  to  the  equally  easily  reached  Dunshaughlin  and 
the  vicinity.  Quot  homines,  tot  sententia.  I  can  only  say  that, 
while  I  am  ignorant  at  this  instant  of  the  result  of  the  New- 
bridge gathering  and  les  gros  bataillions,  I  can  aver  that  we, 
the  minority,  had  a  hunting  run,  which,  for  length  artd  country 
traversed,  is  rarely  equalled  by  any  pack  in  the  three  kingdoms  in 
a  cycle  of  seasons.  The  morning  was  fine  and  grey.  By 
1 1  a.m.  it  began  to  cloud  over  heavily,  and  menace  of  rain  filled 


HIBEXNIA   VENATTCA.  153 

the  western  horizon,  to  the  confusion  of  those  who  had  no 
overcoats,  and  had  donned  the  "better"  pink  to  do  honour 
to  the  smiling  morn.  Half  a  dozen  cars  and  carriages — less 
than  a  dozen  certainly — and  some  sixty  or  seventy  horsemen 
form  a  total  of  our  field  muster.  Among  the  visitors  are  Lord 
Rossmore  on  a  very  fine  lengthy  chestnut,  Colonel  Forster  on 
Greek  Fire,  Captain  Candy,  Mr.  Dundas  on  a  roan,  Captain 
M'Clintock  Bunbury  on  a  clever-looking  grey  horse,  and  Mr. 
Rose  on  a  good-looking  brown  horse ;  while  a  few  Ward  Union 
men  helped  to  swell  the  ranks  a  little.  It  is  always  a  subject 
of  regret  to  see  the  fugleman  of  a  field  hors  de  combat,  if 
only  temporarily,  and  Mr.  Trotter  has  certainly  attained  that 
position  in  Meath  by  continuously  riding  to  the  front,  no  matter 
what  the  country,  for  three  or  four  seasons.  He  was  driving 
to-day  on  a  car — forbidden  to  ride  for  a  week  or  two,  in  conse- 
quence of  a  fall.  Trotting  down  the  usual  laneway,  we  come 
in  ten  minutes  to  a  small  gorse  in  the  middle  of  grassy  fields. 
It  is  known  as  the  Poor-house  Gorse,  for  there  is  the  poor-house 
facing  it,  a  quarter  of  a  mile  to  the  eastwards.  No  sooner  were 
the  hounds  "leud"  in  than  a  fox  went  away,  pointing  for  Ash- 
bourne,  when  he  inclined  a  very  little  to  the  right,  and  ran  through 
some  wild  patches  of  gorse  at  the  back  of  the  poor-house.  Here 
we  were  confronted  by  a  very  wide  ditch,  which  could  not  have 
been  jumped,  as  least  by  most  out,  had  the  sides  not  sloped 
inwards.  Some  jumped,  some  crept  down,  nearly  all  got  over 
somehow.  In  a  couple  of  fields  we  are  bearing  to  the  left ; 
our  fox  is  evidently  ringing  back,  and  there  is  not  much  scent; 
so  for  a  time  there  follows  a  very  short  check  in  a  small  planta- 
tion. And  now  we  are  under  way  again,  in  the  original 
direction,  but  at  rather  a  slow  and  hesitating  pace.  Presently 
we  cross  the  Dublin  road,  and  here  we  are  by  the  edge  of  the 
river  and  wooded  bank  that  guards  the  fearful  Ten-mile  Bush 
Farm,  which  I  have  more  than  once  noticed  in  recent  letters. 
Our  course  diverges  now  to  the  right  a  little,  and  the  first  obstacle 


i54  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

is  a  rhene  or  brook,  ugly  enoygh  and  big  enough,  and  with 
certain  black  tokens  on  the  far  side  which  speak  of  soft  falling 
if  you  get  so  far.  How  many  got  in  I  cannot  say,  but  among 
the  unfortunate  were  two  who  we  may  be  quite  certain  did  harden 
their  hearts  and  put  their  horses  at  it  with  resolution — Goodall 
the  huntsman  and  Captain  Candy.  (Melting  moments  these.)  Nor 
did  the  process  of  getting  out  look  half  as  easy  as  getting  in; 
but  their  friends  must  not  mourn — no  coroner  will  pronounce 
his  "  Found  drowned  "  on  them  yet,  at  any  rate.  Over  the  brook 
and  a  smaller  edition  in  the'  shape  of  a  drain  or  two,  we  are 
confronted  by  a  huge  double,  sedgy  and  reed-grown — really 
nothing  much  to  jump,  but  rather  appalling  if  you  are  not  sure 
of  your  mount.  I  think  Lord  Langford,  Captain  Bunbury,  and 
Mr.  Dundas  piloted  us  over.  I  fancy  I  recollect  following  a 
lady  who  rode  a  neat  grey  over  it.  We  are  now  entering 
Parsonstown  Manor,  close  to  the  Batterstown  railway  station,  and 
hounds  begin  to  mend  their  pace  forthwith.  Some  stalk  off  to 
the  right,  some  keep  a*  line  parallel  to  the  metals  (just  the  course 
a  deer  ran  the  other  day) ;  the  former  had  much  the  best  of 
it  when  the  pack  turned,  which  they  did  presently,  running  through 
Johnstown  lands,  thence  past  Dunshaughlin  village,  and  then 
dipping  down  into  that  fine  valley  under  Culmullen.  Why  the 
fox  did  not  try  Culmullen,  I  know  not — the  harbour  was  within 
a  mile  or  rather  more,  and  it  might  have  saved  his  life;  but 
the  probability  is  that  he  was  one  of  a  litter  brought  out  near 
Parsonstown  Manor  House,  and  for  that  reason  he  neglected 
Culmullen  and  the  friendly  gorses  of  Mulhussey  and  Colistoun, 
which  latter  covert  the  hard-riding  Mr.  M'Gerr  looks  after  most 
efficiently.  If  this  theory  be  correct,  it  brought  him  over  again 
across  the  Meath  line  by  Parsonstown,  over  the  wide  pastures 
of  the  Bush  Farm  (whose  gates  were  fortunately  open),  thence 
across  the  Dunboyne  Road  to  a  point  very  near  the  Fairy 
House,  the  capital  of  stag-hunting.  Here  he  turned,  and  made 
Mr.  Thunder's  park  of  Lagore,  through  which  he  ran  resolutely 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  155 

onwards,  neglecting  apparently  its  countless  burrows,  into  which 
he  might  have  crept  and  saved  himself.  Once  more  he  brushes 
by  the  Poor-house  Gorse,  and  threads  that  path  which  he  has  taken 
twice  already,  across  the  Dublin  road,  and  so  on  to  Parsonstown. 
But  if  this  place  saw  his  birth,  it  also  saw  his  death.  Who-whoop, 
who-whoop  !  they  have  him  at  last  ! — a  strong  and  determined 
fox,  if  inclined  to  twist  and  zigzag  not  a  little ;  for  the  chase 
began  at  11.30  a.m.,  and  till  2.30  p.m.  they  have  been  running 
him  continuously,  and  sometimes  at  good  pace.  Multiply  seven 
miles  Irish  by  three,  and  you  will  have  a  total  of  twenty-one  Irish 
miles,  done  on  rich  holding  grass  lands ;  nor  is  seven  Irish  miles 
a  very  grand  or  exaggerated  estimate  of  fair  hunting  pace.  Had 
this  run  been  moderately  straight,  it  would  have  been  something 
extraordinary ;  as  it  was,  I  have  heard  of  nothing  equal  to  it  this 
season  so  far.  To  be  on  grass  land  for  three  hours  is  in  itself  a 
luxury,  and,  beyond  a  small  garden  near  a  cottage,  I  cannot  call 
to  my  mind  any  plough  in  the  circuit.  Thrusters  of  the  noli  me 
tangere  order  despise  circular  runs.  To  the  preponderating 
majority  they  are  everything,  enabling  them  to  see  many  stages, 
if  not  all,  of  a  fine  long  pursuit,  and  to  be  in  front  also  occa- 
sionally. 

In  a  twisting  run  of  this  immense  length,  of  course  there  were 
innumerable  changes  in  the  front  ranks  of  spectators.  The  metals 
of  the  Navan  line,  for  instance,  threw  out  one  or  two  good  men 
into  temporary  exile.  Some  went  wide  at  Culmullen,  and  lost 
that  good  bit.  In  the  second  stage  the  hardest  rider  and  the 
best-mounted  man  in  the  world  might  find  himself  pounded  in 
the  Bush  Farm.  Goodall  came  to  watery  grief  a  second  time, 
when  going  in  his  usual  fine  form.  (By  the  way,  I  have  since 
heard  that  a  sportsman  from  Leicestershire  had  his  ear  invaded 
with  a  deafening  effect  by  a  small  fish,  which  he  picked  up  in  the 
brook.)  A  noble  lord  who  had  gone  well  desisted  in  the  Bush 
Farm,  after  his  third  fall.  Lord  Langford,  who  had  been  ex- 
tremely well  carried  for  two-thirds  of  the  journey,  lost  a  fore  shoe 


156  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

towards  the  end,  and  had  to  give  up,  when  lost  shoes  and  dead 
beat  were  not  synonymous  terms.  Passing  through  Lagore  and 
Dunshaughlin  Gorse  the  last  time,  there  were  not  many  near  the 
pack,  but  among  them  were  Messrs.  M'Gerr  (on  a  capital  black 
hunter),  Dunne,  Coleridge,  Dundas,  Thunder,  Maher,  and 
Aungier,  while  Messrs.  Hone  and  Kearsley  were  among  the 
finishers.  Nearly  every  hound  took  his  part  in  the  worry.  To 
have  ridden  eight  or  ten  miles  of  the  run  was  a  treat ;  to  have 
never  quitted  them  was  an  aureole  to  man  or  horse.  The  ladies, 
three  especially,  went  admirably. 

In  Kildare,  on  the  same  date,  sport  did  not  patronize  the 
crowds  who  ventured  to  the  Barrack  meet.  There  was  a  gorgeous 
gallery.  The  jumping  powder  purveyed  by  the  soldier  officers 
was  as  exhilarating  as  ever ;  but  scent  and  luck  combined  against 
the  prospects  of  the  day,  and  a  fox  chopped  in  Martinstown,  and 
some  pottering  round  the  Curragh  and  Carrick  Hill,  were  nearly 
the  sole  outcome  of  great  expectations.  The  soldiers  and  civilians 
who  trained  down  from  Dublin  pronounced  the  unanimous  verdict 
that  the  game  was  not  worth  the  candle,  seeing  that  the  Great 
Southern  and  Western  line,  who  are  more  liberal  to  the  racing 
than  the  hunting  interest,  made  the  said  candle  an  extremely 
expensive  taper.  Two  consecutive  fine  hunting  days  is  too  much 
to  expect  just  now ;  consequently  Wednesday  was  as  continuously 
dripping  in  the  earlier  hours,  as  soakingly  heavy  in  the  later,  as 
the  heart  of  a  wildfowl  need  wish. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  met  at  Rathbeggan,  very  near  the 
glorious  finish  of  yesterday's  fox  chase,  and  through  rain  and  mud 
a  select  party  of  about  thirty-five,  or  perhaps  even  less,  journeyed 
to  the  trysting-place,  something  like  a  dozen  English  miles  from 
the  metropolis.  On  the  left  hand,  after  passing  Dunboyne,  flood 
usurped  the  entire  valley ;  the  right-hand  pasture  land  lay  higher, 
but  was  partially  under  the  dominion  of  water.  The  best  thing 
to  do  under  the  circumstances  was  to  ride  up  towards  the  highest 
land  in  the  basin ;  so  the  deer-cart  was  sent  up  the  Fairy  House 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  157 

Lane,  and  an  unknown,  untried  deer  made  her  debut  on  the  lands 
of  Porterstown.  From  this  point  she  pushed  on  past  Dun- 
shaughlin  village,  and  skirted  the  Lagore  Marsh — now  more  like 
a  sedgy  lake — then  holding  on  by  Harbourstown  towards  Pries- 
town,  she  turned  back  as  if  for  Batterstown  ;  but  brushing  by  the 
Pinkeen  Bridge,  where  there  was  a  slight  check,  she  held  her  way 
on  direct  to  the  Fairy  House  racecourse  and  stand,  beyond  which 
point,  when  seemingly  bound  for  Ratoath,  she  crossed  the  road 
leading^  to  that  town,  and  once  more  got  on  to  the  verge  of 
Lagore,  giving  the  half-dozen  who  were  still  pursuing  a  deepish 
river  to  cross  on  our  track.  It  was  just  a  nice  fly  ;  but  horses  are 
not  in  flying  trim  after  an  hour  and  fifty  minutes  in  such  a  country. 
However,  Mr.  McCullagh  did  it  cleverly  and  quietly.  Lord  Clan- 
morris,  who  was  on  a  very  smart  chestnut  mare,  probably  to  be 
heard  of  between  the  flags,  etc.,  etc.,  hopped  over  it  as  if  it  had 
been  a  mere  drain.  Mr.  Hanaway,  who  was  on  a  hot  but  very 
good  chestnut,  sounded  its  depths ;  the  other  three — well,  we 
found  out  a  ford  which  was  very  nearly  a  swim  for  some  horses, 
and  so  got  over'after  a  few  minutes'  delay ;  while  Charley  Brindley, 
on  his  celebrated  grey  mare,  despised  this  slow  process,  and  flew 
it  to  our  right.  Another  river,  hardly  jumpable,  hardly  crossable, 
is  in  front  now ;  the  hounds  have  thrown  up  their  heads ;  rain  is 
coming  down  in  heavy  torrents.  Another  deer  must  be  left  out, 
I  very  much  fear.  We  are  now  close  to  Ratoath,  or  its  outer 
edge,  and  the  time  is  said  to  be  two  hours  from  the  enlargement 
to  the  fault  at  the  Ratoath  stream.  "  Never  rode  such  a  race," 
says  a  noble  lord ;  "  No,  more  did  I,"  says  a  commoner,  who 
always  rides  hard,  whether  between  flags  or  in  the  hunting  field. 
Is  it  not  somewhat  of  a  coincidence  that  two  such  runs  should 
follow  each  other  so  immediately,  and  partially  over  the  same 
country  ?  for  the  big  Poor-house  drain,  an  initial  fence  of  yesterday, 
was  in  the  track  to-day. 

His  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught  was  out  to-day, 
riding  the  roan  horse  I  have  before  alluded  to,  and  for  an  hour — 


158  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

as  I  hear — was  quite  a  pioneer.  I  cannot  speak  of  his  hautsfatts, 
nor  of  those  of  several  good  and  gallant  men,  for  the  simple 
reason  that  I  did  not  see  them,  having  only  nicked  in  for  the 
latter  part  of  this  splendid  gallop,  when  several  left  off  riding, 
thinking  the  best  part  of  the  fun  was  over.  I  hear  that  among 
the  heavy  weights  Mr.  O'Reilly  and  Mr.  Meldon  were  going  very 
well.  Mr.  W.  Stewart's  Gamekeeper  mare  also  proved  herself  as 
stout  as  she  is  brilliant,  persevering  on  till  the  end  ;  but  I  believe 
the  fugleman  of  the  earlier  part  of  the  run  was  Mr.  Coppinger,  on 
Honeymoon. 

In  justice  to  the  authorities  who  rule  over  the  mud  canal 
I  referred  to,  I  must  say  that  at  last  some  repairs  are  being 
attempted.  Stones  are  laid  over  the  grosser  ruts;  but  plenty 
of  mud  remains  for  experimental  observers.  Every  day  lately 
has  brought  sport  to  the  United  Hunt  (Cork).  As  illustrations 
we  may  take  the  i5th,  when  they  met  at  Dunkettle,  the  residence 
of  the  M.F.H.,  Mr.  Thomas  Gubbins,  in  much  rain.  A  quick 
find,  and  a  four-mile  steeplechase  till  the  fox  was  rolled  over  in 
a  fifty-acre  field,  were  the  results.  On  the  i8th  they  met  at 
Mogeely,  and  found  at  once  in  Castle  Martyr,  Lord  Shannon's 
park,  sending  their  fox  to  ground  in  a  limekiln,  after  about  two 
miles.  In  the  Strand  Road  Covert  they  found  a  second,  who 
took  them  along  gaily  beyond  Cloyne,  where  a  long  check  ensued. 
Saunders,  however,  presently  hit  off  the  line,  and  him  too  they 
rolled  over  in  the  open,  Captain  Hunt,  Mr.  and  Miss  Longfield, 
seeing  the  chase  very  well  all  through.  The  mastership  of  the 
pack  will  be  vacant  at  the  close  of  the  present  season,  and  the 
bait  ought  to  tempt  enterprise  and  adventure,  seeing  that  the 
committee,  besides  keeping  the  country,  proffer  ten  or  eleven 
hundred  a  year.  The  pack  belongs  to  the  committee,  who  would 
lend  it  on  terms  and  conditions  of  the  most  liberal  nature  to  the 
master  :  and  the  stock  of  foxes  is  one  that  reflects  great  credit  on 
the  preservers  and  promoters  of  the  royal  game  in  their  riding 
of  Cork. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  159 

Of  Thursday  I  can  only  state  that  the  weather  seemed  to 
prelude  a  white  Christmas,  for  it  was  very  bitterly  cold,  and  much 
soft  snow  fell  for  an  hour  or  two,  though  it  did  not  lie.  I  made 
a  mistake  in  a  fixture,  and  did  not  find  out  my  blunder  till  late, 
after  hacking  a  long  distance.  A  blunder  in  Ireland  is,  of  course, 
a  very  natural  thing;  but,  as  such  a  thing  might  possibly  occur 
anywhere,  I  make  a  suggestion,  in  the  printing  interest,  that 
hunting  men  who  have  many  engagements  should  have  cards  in 
triplicate — one  to  be  placed  near  the  scene  of  early  shaving,  one 
in  the  hall,  and  one  in  the  saddle-room,  so  that  your  groom's 
audit  may  correct  any  lapse  of  eye  or  hurried  glance  of  your  own. 

The  card  was  correctness  itself.  My  eye  was  wrong ;  or  did 
I  trust  somebody's  unauthoritative  ipse  dixit  ?  I  fear  this  was  the 
case.  Rahinstown  meet  and  the  subsequent  events  are  now 
matters  of  (fox)  history.  I  dip  my  pen  into  the  ink  bottle,  and 
record  the  sport  of  the  day.  Ink  is  fluid  still — not  frozen  ;  that's 
encouraging,  at  any  rate,  while  frost  is  supreme  out  of  doors,  and 
has  no  small  influence  within,  too.  Rahinstown  forms  one  of  a 
triad  of  parks  which  almost  border  one  another — Summerhill, 
Lord  Langford's ;  Agher,  Mr.  Winter's ;  Rahinstown,  Mr.  Fowler's. 
It  is  a  phoenix,  inasmuch  as  it  has  arisen  recently  from  the  ashes 
of  a  mansion  burnt  down  some  three  or  four  years  ago,  of  which 
catastrophe  I  recollect  writing  you  an  account  at  the  time  of  its 
occurrence.  The  country  round  is  not  pleasant  or  inviting  to  the 
hunting  eye.  Moss  and  peat  mix  largely  with  the  vale;  while 
the  little  hills,  of  which  there  is  a  perfect  eruption,  are  poor  and 
thin  of  soil — gravelly  for  the  most  part,  and  not  scent-retaining 
by  any  means.  No  greater  contrast  could  be  presented  to  the 
wide-ranging  pasture  through  which  one  rides  or  drives  either 
from  Kilcock  or  Dunboyne.  The  outlook  in  the  earlier  hours 
was  very  anti-hunting.  Snow  flakes  were  eddying  about  in  the 
air  current ;  the  grasp  of  hard  frost  was  on  the  earth ;  it  seemed 
even  betting  on  a  fall  of  snow.  By  ten  o'clock,  however,  the  sun 
came  out,  and  everything  brightened  a  bit,  though  the  cold  was 


t6o  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

great,  and  a  searching  north  wind  bit  into  you  shrewdly.     The 
eastern   mountain  barrier  gleamed  white  with  new-fallen  snow, 
ice  filmed  over  the  surface  water,  and  one's  reins  gave  one  the 
feeling   of    touching  hot   iron.      There   was   a   very   good-sized 
assembly  in  front  of  Mr.  Fowler's  house,  and  the  juvenile  element, 
like  the  bees  in  Virgil's  poem,  "  ludit  favis  emissa  juventus  " — the 
working  "  cells "  being,  I  suppose,  thfe   school-rooms,  now  to  be 
forgotten  for  six  (we'll  hope  very  pleasant)  weeks.     Some  were  on 
ponies,  hunters  in  miniature ;  but  one  young  gentleman  rode  a 
very  fine  brown  mule,  who  seemed,  if  willing,  capable  of  great 
things.     There  were  not  a  great  many  visitors  or  strangers  pre- 
sent, if  we  except  Lord  Rossmore,  Mr.  Forbes,  and  Mr.  Russell, 
of  Limerick  ;  but  here  is  the  gorse,  which  clothes  luxuriantly  one 
of  these  little  hills  I  alluded  to  just  now.     It  is  tenanted,  be  sure, 
for  no  hare  could  evoke   such   notes,  were  the  Meath   hounds 
capable  of  riot — of  which  I  believe  the   single-season   hunters 
are  quite  free,  even  under  strong  provocation.     Away  he  goes, 
making  a  half-circuit  of  the  park,  and  past  the  farmstead,  the 
hounds  very  near  him,  and  carrying  a  very  good  head  indeed. 
Now  they  are  on  plough — the  soil  peaty,  and  a  poor  medium  for 
scent — they  are  at  fault ;    but  Saffron,  a  fine,  large-sized  hound, 
repairs  the  telegraph,  and  away  they  go  nearly  back  to  the  gorse, 
then  on  towards   the   obelisk  in  the  lands  of  Dangan   Castle, 
leaving  Rathmolyon  village  and  church  to  the  left  hand.     Pre- 
sently our  fox  turns  in  to  the  Bullring  Gorse,  where  the  brook  and 
double  caused  some  amusing  scenes.     After  a  mile — it  is  no  use 
persevering,  we  must  give  him  up — the  record  is  lost. 

Agher  Woods  are  now  the  scene.  A  quick  find,  a  tremendous 
scurry  through  the  park  at  racing  pace  for  those  who  were  not 
keeping  a  sharp  look-out  for  the  pack,  followed  by  a  sharp  burst 
into  Agher  Red  Bog.  Garradice  Gorse,  the  next  draw,  is  a  better 
prospect  for  the  gallop  we  want  to  stir  the  blood  and  quicken 
pulsation.  One  hound,  with  a  very  deep  note,  tells  us  a  fox  is 
there,  though  not  very  willing  to  leave  its  warmth  and  thickness. 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  161 

At  last  the  steeplechase  begins  (because  men  somehow  start  from 
this  gorse  as  if  they  knew  they  had  not  more  than  a  mile  or  two 
before  them,  and  are  determined  it  shall  be  fast,  if  brief).  The 
third  fence,  an  up-bank,  has  a  treacherous  cut  on  the  far  side,  and 
Mr.  Dundas  and  Mistletoe  come  down,  apparently  heavily.  A 
few  fields  more,  and  grief  is  rampant ;  loose  horses,  led  horses, 
all  the  tokens  are  there.  On  through  Larch  Hill  lands ;  but  the 
hounds  are  pausing  now.  After  this  it  is  a  potter,  I  think  a 
fruitless  one;  at  any  rate,  your  scribe  pottered  home  minus  a 
shoe.  This  pack  was  at  Balrath  Bury  yesterday.  Foxes  were 
not  wanting ;  but,  beyond  some  hunting  between  Balrath  and 
Drewstown,  the  day  was  inglorious. 

The  Westmeath  had,  I  hear,  fair  sport  on  Monday  last, 
between  Gaybrook  and  Galston  Parks,  killing  a  fox  from  the  latter 
after  about  an  hour's  pursuit.  From  Irishtown,  on  Wednesday, 
they  had  another  good  chase,  the  line  leading  past  Ballinacargy 
and  Rathcourath. 

I  find  in  my  account  of  Tuesday's  engrossing  run  (from  the 
Poor-house  Gorse,  Dunshaughlin)  that  I  have  over-stated  the  time 
by  a  good  many  minutes,  twenty  at  least,  though  my  estimate  of 
the  distance  is  not  very  incorrect — some  say  understated.  This 
makes  the  hounds'  performance  a  better  one  even  than  I  had 
conceived.  Captain  M'Clintock  Bunbury,  I  should  have  added, 
as  first  up,  had  the  handling  of  the  stout  fox  prior  to  the  worry. 

P.S. — I  must  not  forget  to  include  among  the  great  hunting 
successes  of  the  week  a  very  fine  hunting  run  which  the  West 
Meath  hounds  had  on  Friday  last,  while  we  in  Eastern  Meath  were 
"  beat,  bafHed,  and  blown "  from  want  of  scent ;  nor  a  capital 
gallop  which  the  Kildare  hounds  gave  us  on  Saturday  (to-day) 
from  Cullen's  Gorse,  when  the  upper  crust  of  the  earth  was  frost- 
bound,  and  it  seemed  doubtful  whether  hounds  would  come  to 
the  meet  at  all.  The  pack  had  a  moderate  day  on  Thursday  last, 
when  they  met  at  Tinoran  cross-roads,  deficient  earth-stopping 
being  the  principal  feature  of  the  day. 

M 


1 62  HIBERNIA   V EN  ATI C A. 


XII. 

'  Shivere,  shakere,  diluculo  ! 
May  be  very  wholesome — but  not  for  Joe  ! " 

Revised  Latin  Grammat 


Maynooth — Cullen's     Gorse — Christmastide — The     Mount     Neil     run — Mr. 
French's  death — Trim — ' '  London. " 

THOSE  who  got  up  before  nine  o'clock  a.m.  on  Saturday,  the 
23rd — and  to  do  so  required  some  stoicism — saw  the  winter  of 
pictures  very  grandly  illustrated ;  a  sky  cold  and  repelling,  while 
a  sun  which  only  Turner  could  interpret  was  suffusing  the  east 
with  saffron  hues;  the  air  hushed  and  still;  beasts  and  birds 
wearing  that  patient,  subdued  air  of  resignation  which  the  first 
touch  of  winter  in  earnest  brings ;  ponds  skirted  over  with  ice  ; 
but — consoling  feature  ! — the  earth  was  overspread  with  rime,  and 
it  requires  but  little  divination  to  know  that  such  a  frost  is  seldom 
a  stayer. 

The  Kildare  hounds  were  due  at  Maynooth,  where  the  moist 
water-sodden  vale,  well  carpeted  with  luxuriant  grass,  afforded 
a  better  prospect  of  riding  than  any  country  I  know  of  outside  the 
Ward  Union  limits ;  but  so  hard  was  the  ground  in  the  forenoon 
that  I  saw  a  very  bold  pointer,  full  of  go  and  with  good  feet, 
utterly  unable  to  beat  his  ground  in  his  wonted  style.  "  Will  the 
hounds  come  ?  "  was  the  anxious  problem  of  many.  The  hounds 
did  come,  and  the  ivy-mantled  ruins  of  the  old  Geraldine  keep 
looked  down  upon  a  very  goodly  company  gathered  together  in 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  163 

the  cause  of  fox-hunting;  but  as  their  horses'  hoofs  made  the 
adamantine  roads  resound  again,  the  hope  of  hunting  to-day 
seemed  somewhat  a  forlorn  one.  A  very  cosmopolitan  gather- 
ing it  was.  Lots  of  border  men  from  Meath,  well-mounted  as 
they  generally  are,  among  whom  we  may  mention  Lord  Langford, 
the  Hon.  Captain  Rowley,  Mr.  A.  Macneil,  Mr.  Dunne,  and 
a  few  more ;  the  Queen's  County  sent  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Adair,  who 
seldom  miss  a  Kildare  Saturday,  and  are  equally  fortunate  in 
securing  good  front  places  in  the  gallops  which  Saturday  rarely 
fails  to  bring  to  Kildare.  Lord  Oranmore  represented  Galway  on 
a  fine  stamp  of  bay  weight-carrier,  who,  I  hear,  galloped  fast  in 
France  between  flags. 

H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught,  on  his  Lawyer  horse,  was  in 
the  field,  attended  by  Captain  Maurice  Fitzgerald,  his  equerry. 
The  Dublin  Garrison  was  not  in  force,  the  Hon.  Captain  Scott  and 
one  or  two  more  being  the  sole  champions  of  that  powerful  hunt- 
ing body.  Dublin  contributed  Mr.  Roberts  and  Mr.  Robertson, 
both  admirably  mounted.  Mr.  Rose  was  ready  to  ride  hard  for 
Limerick,  his  native  county — no  hard  task  on  the  beautiful  Zouave 
horse  that  carried  him.  The  75th  Regiment  of  the  line  sent 
Captain  Beresford  and  Mr.  Keevil  Davis.  Kildare — Lower 
Kildare,  I  mean,  for  in  all  probability  Upper  Kildare  was  looking 
to  its  skates — was  in  strong  force.  Leicestershire  was  championed 
by  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mr.  Candy,  while  Eton  (Bucks)  sent 
two  of  its  alumni  in  Mr.  W.  Forbes's  sons,  both  admirably 
mounted,  both  fully  capable  of  doing  justice  to  good  mounts. 
But  the  bell  rings ;  the  play  begins  ;  we  are  entering  the  splendid 
park  of  Carton  through  the  Maynooth  avenue,  Lord  Maurice 
Fitzgerald  the  sole  representative  of  his  ducal  house  in  the  field 
to-day.  Park-hunting  is  park-hunting,  and,  though  few  fairer 
theatres  exist  for  its  exhibition  than  Carton,  it  is  not  interesting 
in  the  relation  or  the  reading.  Let  us  pass  over  an  hour  or  two 
spent  in  fine  woods  and  spacious  pastures,  and  let  us  trot  up  the 
lane  leading  to  Cullen's  Gorse,  where  the  usual  jam  and  other 


1 64  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

features  of  the  sort  reproduce  themselves.  The  find  is  quick  as 
lightning;  a  few  who  are  very  well  placed  jump  through  the  well- 
known  gap,  cantering  down  the  pasture  in  front  of  them,  only  to 
find  that  the  fox  has  not  gone  on  his  usual  track  now ;  he  has 
turned  towards  Carton,  and  we  have  to  clatter  back  along  the 
lane-way  again,  to  find  that  the  fox,  probably  headed,  has  bent 
to  the  right,  and  is  running  towards  Castletown  Park.  Towards, 
but  not  to;  for  presently  he  bends  to  the  right,  and,  shaping 
a  course  over  some  swampy-looking  ground,  which  really  was  not 
bad  riding  at  all,  and  most  suitable  to  the  exigencies  of  the 
day,  he  swept  along  at  great  pace  through  this  bit  of  vale ;  on 
through  Corbally,  passing  by  Mr.  Wrecker's  farm,  where  a  double 
or  two  detained  some  sportsmen ;  and  so  on  to  the  gentle  acclivity 
of  Windgate  Hill,  down  once  more  into  the  vale,  pointing  for 
Rathcoffey ;  then  with  an  inclination  to  the  right,  through  Griffins- 
town,  by  Lady  Chapel  on  to  Laragh.  And  here  a  flock  of  sheep 
caused  a  long  check,  and  suspended  hunting  for  some  time,  till 
the  clue  was  regained  at  Taghadoe  Covert,  in  which  our  fox,  who 
had  got  fifteen  or  twenty  minutes  to  the  good,  had  taken  refuge. 
From  this  point  he  was  hunted  till  the  first  bit  of  newly  turned-up 
plough  brought  the  pack  to  their  noses,  and  gave  our  fox  another 
good  start.  Thence  we  followed  him  slowly  to  the  cross-roads  of 
Windgate  Hill;  over  the  hill,  across  the  Celbridge  road,  through 
Captain  Johnson's  farm,  till  waning  light  and  failing  scent  stopped 
further  investigation,  for  I  cannot  call  the  last  part  of  our  chase 
pursuit.  The  going  over  the  vale  was  very  good — unexpectedly 
so,  I  should  think,  to  many — and,  though  a  few  banks  had  rather 
hard  tops  and  sides,  the  fencing  (mostly  of  a  flying  nature)  was 
very  pleasant,  and  there  were  not  so  many  falls  as  might  have 
been  anticipated.  Mr.  Forbes  (on  Hock)  and  one  of  his  sons  (on 
a  capital  brown  hunter)  got  off  on  capital  terms,  and  made  use  of 
their  advantage ;  so  did  Messrs.  Bayly  and  Hanaway,  two  hard- 
riding  men,  who  will  not,  I  fancy,  summon  me  to  Calais  or  the 
land  of  the  brave  Belgians  for  dwelling  on  this  personal  character- 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  165 

istic,  or  naming  their  names.  Captain  R.  Mansfield  and  Mr. 
Percy  La  Touche  met  a  huge  ditch  in  their  progress,  which  their 
horses  failed  to  clear.  (It  is  described  as  almost  unjumpable,  if 
not  quite  so,  where  they  took  it;)  and  here  they  had  to  spend 
many  a  mauvais  quart  d'heure  till  ropes  came  to  extricate  them, 
and  the  first  set,  I  heard,  proved  too  weak  for  the  strain  ! 

Talking  of  horses  and  their  peculiarities,  I  heard  of  a  rather 
dangerous  experience  the  other  day ;  but  I  was  not  out  myself  on 
the  occasion,  so  cannot  speak  from  observation.  A  bold  dragoon 
— and  he  needed  all  his  courage — bought  a  horse  whose  fencing 
was  uncertain,  but  of  his  vicious  or  playful  habits  when  his  rider 
was  prone  no  doubt  existed.  After  several  escapes  it  seems  our 
gay  cavalier,  who  had  fallen  at  an  up-bank,  was  climbing  up  the 
steep  eminence  to  get  out  of  his  hunter's  reach.  The  latter,  how- 
ever, would  not  be  denied  his  opportunity,  so  he  seized  his  rider 
by  the  back  of  his  coat  with  his  teeth  to  have  his  innings.  How 
he  was  rescued  it  boots  not  now  to  tell ;  suffice  it  to  say  that  I 
have  seen  the  said  dragoon  going  well  since,  so  his  nerves  may  be 
supposed  not  to  have  suffered.  Most  systems  would  have  felt  the 
shock  for  many  a  day.  The  Ward  Union  hounds  met  at  the  Flat 
House  on  this  date,  and  had,  I  hear,  a  very  enjoyable  gallop. 

Apropos  of  the  peculiarities  of  hunters,  let  me  record  here 
a  very  curious  circumstance,  to  which  I  know  no  parallel.  Mr. 
Morrogh,  on  the  occasion  of  his  recent  accident  (a  broken  leg), 
sent  his  stud  to  the  hammer  at  FarrelPs,  in  Dublin.  They  were 
seasoned  hunters  for  the  most  part,  well  known,  and  sold  to  the 
satisfaction  of  their  owner — all  save  one,  perhaps  the  pick  of  the 
basket,  a  thoroughly  good  hunter,  but  withal  a  nervous,  sensitive 
horse.  It  is  supposed  that  this  horse  got  thoroughly  cowed  by 
the  usual  trials  of  copers  for  wind  soundness,  for  just  as  he  was 
about  to  be  sold  it  was  found  that  his  jaw  was  rigid  from  tetanus. 
Some  fourteen  or  fifteen  days  have  elapsed  since,  and  I  have  not 
heard  that  the  horse  has  been  relieved  thoroughly  yet.  Let  me 
here  state  an  experience  of  my  own  in  a  foreign  country,  where 


1 66  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

the  veterinary  art  was  still  in  its  infancy  and  unsystematised.  I 
had  driven  a  young  mare,  a  remarkably  good  goer,  a  long  distance 
as  tandem  leader ;  no  sooner  was  the  bit  out  of  her  mouth  than  all 
the  symptoms  of  idiopathic  tetanus  set  in.  Circumstances  aided 
me.  A  sheep  had  been  recently  killed ;  I  had  the  skin  put  over 
her  loins,  and  kettles  of  almost  boiling  water  poured  over  it 
at  short  intervals  for  hours.  By  morning  the  poor  mare  was 
relieved.  I  sold  her,  and  saw  her  at  work  afterwards,  but  never 
the  same  high-couraged  animal  as  before  the  nervous  seizure. 

Ireland  is  emphatically  the  island  of  saints.  Look  around  its 
ivy-mantled  ruins — they  nearly  all  wear  an  ecclesiastical  type. 
Many  of  the  bubbling  wells  and  springs  to  which  the  peasant 
matron  and  maid  daily  resort  are  rich  in  saintly  story  and  tradition. 
Like  the  Spaniard,  the  Irish  Celt  built  his  temple  on  grand  lines, 
before,  like  the  Gaul,  he  bethought  him  of  his  theatre  or  his  own 
domestic  hearth ;  and,  even  while  his  cult  was  in  the  cold  shade  of 
semi-legal  proscription,  fanes  of  no  mean  architectural  beauty 
dotted  the  face  of  the  country.  With  this  exordium  let  me  state 
that  all  over  Ireland  foxes — and,  I  believe,  hares  too — had  perfect 
repose  and  peace  on  Christmas  Day.  Apollyon  himself,  in  the 
quick,  would,  I  believe,  have  been  granted  an  armistice  on  the 
day  of  universal  peace  and  good  will  to  mankind  and  our  cousins 
the  ferae. 

"  He  prayeth  well  who  loveth  well 
Both  man,  and  bird,  and  beast," 

was  the  rule  and  legend  sans  exception,  save  in  the  case  of  fat 
oxen  and  double-breasted  bubbly-jocks,  to  whom  we  showed  our 
affection  in  a  very  carnal  and  cannibal  fashion.  So  for  forty-eight 
hours  the  music  of  hound  and  the  blast  of  the  huntsman's  trumpet 
were  not  heard  in  Ireland ;  and  stud  grooms  had  an  interregnum 
of  two  days  to  repair  the  exhaustion  of  nine  or  ten  weeks  of  con- 
tinuous and  wearing  strain,  latterly  intensified  by  the  holding 
nature  of  the  water-sodden  ground.  Two  whole  days  without 
hunting !  Why,  the  riding  world,  like  the  hero  of  Donnybrook 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  167 

Fair,  was  beginning  to  get  blue-mouldy  for  want  of  a  scurry,  more 
especially  since  the  menace  of  frost  and  snow  had  passed  away 
like  the  alarms  of  war ;  and  this  terraqueous  section  of  the  globe, 
after  having  resumed  for  a  brief  interval  the  nature  of  crust,  had 
relapsed  again  into  a  state  of  crumb  and  pulp  and  gelatinism. 
Tuesday  was  the  festa  of  St.  Stephen,  the  proto-martyr.  In  John 
Bull's  land  it  is  boxing  day ;  here  it  is  "  stoning "  day,  and  bands 
of  small  boys,  accompanied  by  some  mummers,  and  such  music 
as  they  can  command,  go  about  from  house  to  house  dancing, 
feasting,  and  collecting  tribute  (if  they  can)  in  reward  for  the 
slaughter  of  sundry  wrens,  whom  we  may  suppose  to  be  stoned  to 
commemorate  the  fate  of  the  saintly  deacon.  It  is  a  holy  day ; 
for  sure  'tis  under  the  patronage  of  St.  Stephen.  It  is  a  jolly  day ; 
for  sure  that  mighty  moon,  John  Jameson,  who  sways  the  tides  in 
the  affairs  of  men  (and  women)  in  Ireland,  is  under  no  eclipse 
that  day.  The  armistice  is  closed ;  war  upon  fur  and  feather — 
aye,  even  upon  the  pike  who  infests  lakes  and  canals — is  univer- 
sally proclaimed.  Almost  every  man  of  able  body  and  robust 
health  in  Ireland  on  that  day  becomes  for  the  nonce  a  sportsman, 
and,  donning  the  insignia  of  his  calling,  sallies  out  on  the  war 
path.  Gunners,  anglers,  coursers,  fox-hunters,  stag-hunters,  hare- 
hunters,  all  had  their  beats  marked  out  for  them.  Looking  at  the 
hunting  programme  from  a  metropolitan  club-window  point  of 
view,  three  lines — like  Sir  Robert  Peel's  celebrated  three  courses — 
presented  themselves  to  the  otiose  hunting  man  to  whom  the  deep 
soil  and  the  watery  ways  had  left  a  horse  or  two  fit  to  take  their 
part  in  the  image  of  war.  The  stag-hunter  met  the  Ward  Union 
pack  at  the  Flat  House,  whose  vale  was  far  more  suggestive  of 
otter-hunting  than  aught  else.  The  Meath  hounds  met  at  Swains- 
town,  Mr.  Preston's  residence,  and  it  was  well  known  that  His 
Royal  Highness  would  be  in  the  field,  as  he  was  the  guest 
of  Colonel  Fraser,  V.  C.,  at  Bective,  and  Swainstown  was  very 
accessible  by  that  delectable  Meath  line — which  brings  you,  'tis 
true,  to  the  trysting-place  in  very  good  time,  and  also  for  the  most 


1 68  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

part  in  great  personal  safety,  but  takes  you  away  (there  are  but 
two  trains  a  day  on  this  single  line)  just  as  an  afternoon  fox, 
ungorged  and  lively,  is  beginning  to  show  sport :  "  keeping  the 
word  of  (hunting)  promise  to  the  ear  to  break  it  to  the  hope." 
Non  tali  auxilio.    No  indeed  !  one  or  two  such  experiences  suffice 
for  a  season.     Certainly  not,  while  Naas  and  the  Great  Southern 
and  Western  line  offer  a  better  exodus  and  a  more  convenient 
time  for  retiring  from  the  fray.     The  Kildare  hounds  were  to  meet 
at  Naas  that  day.     Swainstown  and  the  Flat  House  ought  to  dis- 
pose of  many  redundant  men  and  horses.    Let  the  glass  of  fashion 
and  the  mould  of  form  repair  to  Swainstown  to  witch  the  world 
with  noble  horsemanship,  and  to  display  the  recentest  triumphs  of 
Saville-row  and  St.  James's-street.      I  will  repair  to  modest  Naas 
and  its  sporting  brotherhood — peradventure   sport  will   be   pro- 
pitious to  our  minority.     Yes,  it  was  a  minority  compared  to  the 
legions  whom  "  Naas  "  on  Mr.  Gray's  correct  card  usually  draws 
to  this  sporting  vortex ;   one  saw  this  at  once  at  King's  Bridge 
Terminus,    where    not    more   than   a   dozen   horse    boxes   were 
requisitioned  for  the  day's  use  from  garrison,  court,  and  city.     Let 
us  pass  over  that  slow  procession  to  Sallins,  near  which  town  it  is 
easy  and  grievous  to  see  the  most  attractive  flying  fences  in  the 
vale  margined  by  wire.     The  most  salient  feature  on  the  route  was 
a  green  and  gold  band  of  musicians,  the  last  phantom  of  Fenian- 
ism,  which  hopes  cere  ciere  viros  martemque  accendere  cantu.     Naas 
was  comparatively  empty  at  eleven  o'clock,  when  we  reached  it ; 
but  for  this  one  of  the  most  bitterly  cold  days  that  this  year  has 
evoked  must  be  mainly  responsible,  for  horses  had  to  be  kept 
moving  fast  or  in  their  stables,  while  every  one  stuck  to  his  ingle 
nook  on  such  a  morning  till  the  very  last  instant.     Five  minutes 
past  eleven,  and  then  came  the  hounds;   Will  Freeman  and  his 
aide-de-camps  all  wearing  that  look  of  achievement  and  content 
which  a  very  successful  half  season  has  fully  warranted ;  and  now 
the  streets  are  beginning  to  fill,  and  horses  are  pulled  out  of  their 
stalls  and  boxes !     Among  those  whom  fashion  and  novelty  had 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  169 

not  drawn  away  from  Kildare  and  its  hunting  grounds  were 
Lord  Clonmell,  the  Hon.  T.  Scott,  Mr.  W.  Forbes,  Sir  Michael 
Hicks  Beach,  the  Hon.  Major  Lawless,  Captain  and  the  Hon. 
Mrs.  Candy,  the  Baron  de  Robeck,  Colonel  Forster,  Captain 
Wakefield,  R.  N.,  Lord  Oranmore,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  More  O'Farrell, 
General  Seymour,  Captain  Ward  Bennett,  Mr.  Roberts,  Captain 
Beresford,  a  detachment  of  the  yth  Dragoons  and  the  Royal  and 
Horse  Artillery  from  Newbridge,  etc. ;  Captains  Trench  and  Mans- 
field, General  and  Captain  Irwin,  Mr.  Charles  Hamilton,  Captain 
de  Montmorency,  Captain  Gresson,  Mr.  Percy  and  Lady  Annette 
La  Touche,  Captain  R.  Barton,  Captain  Fortescue  Tynte,  Mr.  and 
Miss  Moore,  Mr.  Linde,  and  Mr.  Beasley  (on  Montgomery  II.), 
the  Misses  Kennedy  and  Owen,  Miss  O'Kelly,  and  Mr.  Thunder, 
with  a  good  many  more  leal  men  and  true,  loyal  to  their  hunt  and 
their  own  hunting  grounds. 

It  was  a  bitter  forenoon.  The  wind  was  easterly,  the  glass 
ascending ;  but  the  slopes  of  the  eastern  hills  were  snow-flecked. 
Portentous  clouds,  charged  with  rain  or  snow,  hung  over  our 
heads,  and  it  became  only  a  question  of  what  shape  the  fall  would 
take  when  the  half  gale  which  was  blowing  in  full  blast  began  to 
mitigate  its  violence.  No  morning  to  make  fine  speeches  about 
the  compliments  of  the  season,  or  invoke  everything  good  for  the 
coming  year.  Mr.  Mansfield  rattled  us  off  at  the  double  to 
Eadestown  Gorse  by  the  well-known  Punchestown  track.  The 
irony  of  fate  or  circumstance  willed  it  that  our  line  should  be  cast 
over  breezy  acclivities  to-day ;  and,  though  a  fox  did  not  detain 
us  more  than  ten  minutes  or  a  quarter  of  an  hour  in  the  tiny 
gorse,  it  seemed  an  interminable  space  of  cold,  dreary  duration. 
Away  he  goes;  away  we  go,  jammed  in  a  gate;  then  careering 
over  a  plough  and  a  well-trodden  gap,  then  emerging  into  grass, 
where  the  pack  checks  at  the  road.  Our  fox  has  been  headed 
(small  wonder,  when  the  place  is  all  but  encircled),  and  is  gone 
back.  Another  twenty  minutes,  even  drearier  than  the  last,  and 
then  we  are  in  motion  again.  The  fox's  first  impulse  was  Punches- 


170  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

town ;  now  it  is  Elverstown  or  Downshire  Park.  Either  would 
do  for  a  fair  gallop ;  but  no  fox  would  face  the  gale  for  two 
minutes  unless  he  had  a  great  start,  nor  does  ours;  so,  sinking 
the  wind,  he  runs  parallel  to  the  gorse  and  the  Rathmore  road, 
then  sweeping  over  some  very  fine  pasture  land,  he  holds  on  over 
the  Blessington  road — where  a  very  narrow,  newly  made  bank 
brings  a  well-known  chaser  and  a  good  welter-weight  to  grief — 
crosses  the  wide  grassy  acres  of  Newtown  Farm,  and  is  supposed 
to  have  gone  to  Forenaghts  Woods.  But  hounds  hardly  hunted 
a  yard  beyond  Newtown  pastures,  and  my  theory  is  that  our  fox 
doubled  up  a  hedgerow,  tried  the  well-known  earths  and  got  back 
to  Eadestown.  Be  that  as  it  may,  we  gave  him  up,  and  went  to 
another  eminence,  which  overlooks  Arthurstown  Gorse,  and  then 
huddled  under  banks  and  thorns  to  avoid  the  cutting  sting  of  the 
east  wind.  Presently  the  horn  informed  those  capable  of  hearing 
that  our  search  was  vain.  The  storm  of  rain  now  began  to 
descend  :  a  stampede  homewards  was  the  almost  universal  instinct. 
A  council  of  the  chase  convened  for  the  occasion  decided  (wisely 
I  think)  that  to  draw  Punchestown  Gorse  in  such  weather  was  not 
advantageous  to  Kildare's  best  hunting  interests.  So  ends  the 
story  of  St.  Stephen's  Day  in  Kildare  as  I  saw  it  and  felt  it.  Even 
a  short  gallop  was  a  pleasure.  I  have  said  nothing  of  the  per- 
formance of  men  and  horses  in  that  short  spin,  and  yet  it  was  not 
wholly  devoid  of  episode  and  incident.  Empty  saddles  were  to 
be  seen.  One  of  our  best  light-weights  broke  two  stirrup  leathers 
starting  in  this  run,  and  had  a  narrow  escape  of  a  heavy  fall. 
The  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  who  was  riding  a  new  four-year-old,  had 
the  great  satisfaction  of  finding  out  that  her  mount  was  as  clever 
in  performance  as  he  was  taking  in  appearance.  Those  who 
elected  Naas  in  preference  to  Swainstown  were  right,  I  find, 
according  to  the  issue ;  for,  meagre  as  the  sport  was  in  Kildare,  it 
was  even  more  jejune  in  Meath,  seeing  that  Swainstown  and 
Kilcarty  Corses  were  foxless  to-day,  and  some  park-hunting  round 
Dunsany  was,  I  believe,  the  entire  outcome  of  the  long-expected 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  171 

day.  By-the-by,  what  is  a  good  run  ?  I  may  give  my  notion  on 
that  subject  by-and-by;  but  when  I  see  your  generally  well-in- 
formed and  accurate  sporting  contemporary  actually  crediting  the 
Osberstown  fox  (kennel  meet,  Kildare)  with  a  good  run  when  the 
brute  never  went  four  fields  from  his  gorse,  I  am  beginning  to 
think  that  definition  is  necessary  before  adjectives  can  be  freely 
used. 

On  Wednesday,  the  28th,  the  Ward  Union  hounds  were  due 
at  Dunboyne  village  at  one  o'clock,  and,  as  this  village  is  full  of 
hunters  just  now,  I  conceived  that  in  all  probability  there  would 
be  a  very  large  meet  there,  seeing  that  it  is  not  much  more  than 
eight  miles  (Irish)  from  the  metropolis,  with  a  railway  station  close 
by.  My  anticipations  of  a  large  company  were  erroneous.  The 
field  was  most  moderate  in  extent,  and  the  Garrison  was  almost 
wholly  unrepresented  at  the  assembly.  A  dark,  sombre,  foggy 
forenoon;  by  one  o'clock  a  thin  rain  began  to  descend,  which, 
like  Fame,  gained  volume  in  its  progress  (vires  acquirit  eundo), 
and  by  twenty  minutes  past  it  descended  in  sluices,  but  only  last- 
ing long  enough  to  soak  every  one  pretty  thoroughly.  Before  two 
the  storm  was  over,  and  we  were  careering  after  a  deer  enlarged 
by  Baytown  Park.  First,  we  had  a  little  ring  by  way  of  prelimi- 
nary, then  a  wide  one,  which  introduced  us  to  several  brooks 
(where  Mr.  A.  Macneil's  chestnut  horse  showed  very  good  form), 
and  to  an  array  of  large,  repulsive  fences  between  Baytown  and 
Ballymacoll,  which  required  a  good  hunter's  stretch ;  then  followed 
the  capture  at  a  point  near  Vesington.  The  day  being  still  young, 
a  second  deer  was  enlarged  not  far  from  the  scene  of  the  capture 
of  the  first ;  and  if  it  did  not  run  very  far,  it  ran  over  a  fine  sound 
line,  well  brooked  also,  by  Crookstown,  on  to  Batterstown,  where 
it  was  secured,  Captain  Candy,  who  got  very  well  away,  taking 
a  leading  part  in  the  performance.  The  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy  was 
riding  one  of  the  nicest  chesnut  horses  I  have  ever  seen  a  lady  on, 
and  equal,  I  hear,  to  any  and  every  country. 

I  alluded  just  now  to  the  diversity  of  opinion  existing  about 


172  HI  BERN  I  A   YEN  ATI C A. 

runs,  and  the  application  of  qualifying  adjectives.  Of  the  follow- 
ing outline  of  a  run— I  give  the  mere  skeleton — there  will  be  very 
little  divergence  of  opinion,  I  fancy.  The  date  was  the  22nd  inst., 
the  meeting  place  Moncoin,  the  pack  the  Curraghmore.  Mount 
Neil,  first  drawn,  was  empty.  A  fox,  however,  turned  up  in  a 
small  plantation  on  the  Curraghmore  side  of  Mount  Neil.  He 
ran  through  the  covert  and  pointed  for  Granny,  where  some  quar- 
ries had  ere  this  saved  him  opportunely.  They  were  closed  now ; 
so  he  held  on  for  Dunkit,  where  there  was  a  slight  check  ;  but 
Duke  hit  off  the  line  directly.  It  led  over  the  railway  and  across 
the  Blackwater  by  the  bridge,  thence  right  through  Bishop's  Hall, 
and  straight  into  Tory  Hill,  where,  with  the  hounds  a  field  behind 
him,  he  got  a  refuge  among  inaccessible  rocks.  The  distance 
from  Mount  Neil  to  the  finish,  as  the  crow  flies,  is  over  nine 
English  miles  ;  as  the  fox  travelled  it  was  about  fourteen,  and  very 
straight,  all  over  grass.  The  time  taken  was  one  hour  and  thirty 
minutes,  and  the  field  had  dwindled  down  to  eight  or  nine,  in- 
cluding the  huntsman  and  first  whip,  the  Marquis  of  Waterford, 
a  welter-weight,  on  Long  John,  and  a  couple  of  ladies  who  rode 
the  gallop  admirably.  Needless  to  say,  scent  was  breast  high 
nearly  all  through ;  but  the  fact  is,  the  Curraghmore  hounds  have 
had  very  little  baffling  scent  this  season ;  hence,  combined  with 
their  stout  foxes,  the  grand  sport  they  have  shown  up  to  date. 

Friday,  the  2  2nd,  was  also  a  white-stone  day  in  Western  Meath, 
my  authority  being  a  Leicestershire  man,  who  was  full  of  the  sport, 
the  servants  and  their  mounts,  and,  in  fine,  of  the  tout  ensemble. 
On  this  date  they  met  at  Delvin,  and,  finding  at  South  Hill,  ran 
their  fox  through  Rosmeade  Park  (Lord  Vaux's)  to  Ballinlough 
(Sir  C.  Nugent's),  and  here  there  was  a  short  check.  Then  the 
chase  led  on  towards  Heathstown,  to  Mount  Nelson,  and  thence 
to  Drewstown,  which  is  Meath  territory,  and  consequently  stopped  : 
one  hour  and  a  quarter  by  the  unstopped  watch.  Among  the 
leaders  in  this  gallop  were  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Malone,  General  the 
Hon.  Curzon  Smythe,  and  Captain  Candy.  A  second  fox  was 


HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A.  173 

found  in  Rosmeade,  who  got  into  a  rabbit-hole ;  but  when  the 
pack  were  drawn  off  he  came  out,  and  was  hunted  into  Ballin- 
lough.  South  Hill  produced  a  third  fox,  who  was  hunted  as  long 
as  light  lasted,  when  every  one  turned  in  to  a  late  luncheon. 

Saturday's  run  from  Archerstown  with  the  Meath  hounds  was 
described  to  me  as  very  good ;  but  the  riding,  by  all  accounts, 
was  neither  pleasant  nor  very  safe.  Kilgar  and  Clonabraney  also 
furnished  their  quota  of  good  foxes  that  day.  Wednesday,  the 
zoth,  was  another  good  day  in  Westmeath;  they  found  a  good 
fox  in  Irishtown  Gorse,  who  took  them  by  Ballinacargy  and  Fay 
Mount  to  Rathconrath,  where  he  got  into  a  cave.  The  time  well- 
nigh  sixty  minutes,  the  line  grass,  the  pace  good,  interrupted  but 
by  a  single  check. 

Friday,  the  22nd  again  !  The  scene  is  now  laid  in  Wexford, 
where  the  hounds  met  at  Wilton.  Let  us  hurry  on  to  "the 
Master's  Gorse,"  which,  as  usual,  is  full.  Forty  minutes'  ring  with 
one  ;  then  the  hounds  change  to  a  fresh  one,  and  race  him  towards 
Rossdroit,  then  through  Mr.  Hope's  large  grass  farm,  over  Balla- 
deen,  through  Ballinavary,  across  the  river  Boro  at  the  Flax  Mills, 
through  Craan,  and  into  the  Turret  Grove  on  Carrighill.  Here 
the  bitches  were  halloaed  on  to  a  fresh  fox,  whom  they  raced  over 
Davidstown  by  the  back  of  the  chapel,  through  Moneybore, 
through  Rossdroit  Wood,  over  the  hill  as  if  he  meant  to  try  Lord 
Carew's  coverts  at  Castleboro' ;  but,  swinging  to  the  left,  he  swept 
through  Moneytucker  and  Ballybane,  winning  his  way  back  to  the 
Turret  Grove  (the  last  eight  miles  occupied  an  hour) ;  in  vain, 
however,  for  he  was  rolled  over  at  ten  minutes  to  four  o'clock,  the 
hounds  having  been  continuously  hunting  for  three  hours  and 
twenty-five  minutes,  and  part  of  the  time  running  very  fast.  Every 
hound,  I  hear,  was  up  at  the  finish. 

The  Kildare  hounds  had  a  good  day's  sport  on  Thursday  last, 
to  which  I  think  I  hardly  made  allusion.  The  meet  was  at 
Tinorin  cross-roads.  The  Hill  Gorse  held  a  fox,  but  he  was 
killed  in  covert.  Ballyhook  was  blank ;  but  Whitestown  held  a 


174  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

tenant,  who  ran  towards  Stratford,  then  turning  over  a  swampy 
sort  of  morass,  strongly  banked,  which  emptied  a  good  saddle  or 
two,  he  ran  back  by  Wine  Tavern  to  his  starting-point,  and  got 
to  ground  somehow,  after  a  very  enjoyable  twenty-six  or  twenty- 
seven  minutes.  Copelands  held  a  fox,  who  ran  vid  Merganstown 
to  Whitestown  also,  and  could  not  be  dislodged.  Sleet  and  snow 
showers  coming  on  caused  a  dispersion  homewards,  many  of  the 
Carlow  quota  having  long  rides  back,  and  they  were  in  force 
to-day — among  them  the  Messrs.  Bunbury,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Stewart 
Duckett,  Mr.  Beauchamp  Bagenal,  and  Captain  Tanner. 

The  week,  now  closing  in  storm  and  tempest,  has  not  been 
rich  in  sport.  Hounds  blown  home ;  meets  rendered  impossible 
from  weather  considerations ;  a  race  fixture  postponed,  not  from 
frost  and  snow,  but  from  rain  and  deluge — such  have  been  our 
chief  weather  characteristics. 

I  find  I  was  somewhat  premature  in  denouncing  the  week  of 
storm  and  rain  as  barren  of  sport.  While  we  were  enjoying 
ourselves  on  Wednesday  last  with  a  couple  of  short-running  deer 
in  the  deep  Dunboyne  country,  the  Meath  hounds  had  one  of 
their  brightest  days  from  Beau  Pare,  Mr.  Gustavus  Lambart's 
beautiful  residence  by  the  Boyne  Water.  I  should  say  the  fun 
began  from  Beau  Pare,  which  was  the  scene  of  the  meet ;  but  it 
was  Slater's  Gorse  that  furnished  the  best  morning  fox,  who  gave 
the  pack  a  capital  half-hour,  though  not  continuously  straight, 
the  run  ending  near  Lismullen.  His  Royal  Highness  the  Duke 
of  Connaught,  who  had  been  staying  at  Bective,  the  guest  of 
Colonel  Fraser,  was  in  the  field,  and  saw  this  portion  of  the  day's 
sport.  Some  military  function  in  Dublin  prevented  his  witnessing 
the  concluding  part  of  the  day's  programme,  which  turned  out 
exceptionally  good  and  brilliant,  a  straight-necked  fox,  found  at 
Lismullen,  taking  the  pack  along  fast  over  a  beautiful,  sound  line 
of  grass  by  the  Castle  of  Screen,  past  Corbalton  into  the  Reisk, 
nearly  an  eight-mile  point  The  following  day  was  very  good  in 
both  Kildare  and  Meath,  Cryhelp  furnishing  a  good  fox  and  good 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  175 

sound  upland  grass  in  the  former,  while  the  Meath  hounds  began 
with  a  hunting  run  from  Allenstown  (the  master's  park),  and 
wound  up  with  a  very  enjoyable  forty  minutes  from  Rathmore  vt'd 
Gilston  to  Allenstown. 

On  Friday  the  same  pack  met  at  Trim,  in  rain  so  soaking  that 
I  saw  one  of  the  best  of  their  light-weights  turn  homewards. 
From  Trimlestown  Gorse  they  had  a  very  wide  ring,  at  capital 
sustained  space ;  another  departure  from  the  same  gorse  after  a 
short  delay,  then  a  recapitulation  of  the  first  couple  of  miles  of 
the  run,  and  a  subsequent  bend  towards  New  Haggard,  near  which 
point  I  believe  they  failed  to  account  for  their  quarry — a  very 
good  day's  sport,  though  severe  on  horses,  and  not  too  pleasant 
for  the  human  race.  In  the  Queen's  County  Mr.  Hamilton  Stubber 
was  at  Timogue  on  Wednesday;  found  foxes  abounding  every- 
where, but  defective  earth-stopping  spoilt  what  might  have  proved 
a  very  good  day — this  part  of  his  territory  riding  comparatively 
light  and  springy  still. 

Your  contemporary  (the  Saturday  Review],  I  see,  has  told  us 
in  his  wise  caustic  way  that  we  hunt  too  much.  Was  it  in 
deference  to  his  pandect,  or  in  consideration  of  a  limited  liability 
stable,  that  I  forbore  from  pursuit  on  Thursday,  and  so  lost  a 
good  day  in  either  Kildare  or  Meath  ?  If  this  weather  lasts,  we 
shall  all  perforce  subscribe  to  some  of  his  doctrinaire  views. 

The  recent  death  of  Mr.  French,  of  Ardsallagh,  in  the  County 
Meath,  has  put  many  families  in  mourning,  and  caused  wide  gaps 
in  the  hunting  array.  His  death  was  the  result  of  a  kick  from  a 
young  horse  in  the  hunting-field,  on  the  occasion  of  the  Meath 
hounds  meeting  at  Dunshaughlin,  some  five  or  six  weeks  ago. 
He  was  a  good  sportsman,  a  staunch  preserver  of  foxes  in  his 
extensive  coverts,  and  entered  all  his  family  to  the  royal  sport 
early.  Your  columns  recorded  last  summer  the  sad  yachting 
disaster  by  which  Mr.  French  lost  his  son,  and  many  a  friend  and 
companion. 

"Multis  ille  bonis  fiebilis  occidit." 


i76  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

Mr.  French's  death  stops  the  Louth  hounds  for  a  week;  Mr. 
Filgate,  their  master,  being  his  son-in-law.  Hunting  has  this 
season  been  fearfully  prodigal  of  life  and  limb  in  men  and 
horses. 

Let  me  finish  the  year's  hunting  in  this  letter — I  mean  that 
modest  portion  thereof  that  comes  within  my  power  of  seeing  and 
hearing.  Saturday,  the  3oth  December,  the  last  hunting  day  in 
Ireland,  England,  and  Scotland,  of  1876,  was,  so  far  as  Kildare 
went — and  with  that  pack  I  throw  in  my  lot — anything  but  a 
red-letter  epoch.  II pluit  averse  was  the  only  way  to  describe  the 
torrents  of  the  morning  up  to  10.30  a.m.,  to  which  succeeded  a 
clear  warm  afternoon,  whose  fineness  and  serenity  were  only 
broken  by  a  single  shower.  Belgard  Gorse  was  the  first  draw. 
The  last  time  we  were  there  was  in  fog ;  a  clear  sky  did  not 
improve  the  position,  for  the  hounds  were  inside  a  park  wall. 
The  field,  if  like  good  boys  they  did  what  the  master  told  them, 
were  half-bogged  in  a  bit  of  heavy,  soaked  plough  outside.  There, 
with  one  or  two  false  starts,  to  diversify  proceedings,  we  stayed 
for  an  hour  or  more.  At  last  we  heard  or  saw,  by  such  sema- 
phores as  hats  raised  a  long  distance  off,  that  the  fox  had  broken 
and  gone  away.  When  we  emerged  into  grass-land  from  plough, 
the  leaders  were  half  a  mile  in  front,  the  rear  rank  half  a  mile 
behind  the  middle  division.  Our  fox  ran  to  a  small  plantation 
near  Tallaght  Covert;  then,  wholly  unpressed,  wandered  back 
towards  Belgard,  turned  to  the  right,  and  got  safely  to  the  green 
hills  by  Castle  Tymon  ruins.  Castlebagot  and  its  gorse  were 
foxless  to-day,  and  this  is  all  I  can  say  of  a  bad  day's  sport  and 
a  large  field  up  to  3.30  or  so  p.m.  There  was  lots  of  fencing, 
big  and  little,  brook  jumping,  tumbling,  and  all  that  to  many 
constitutes  the  fun  of  the  fair.  Thursday  last  in  Kildare,  and  its 
three  runs  from  Cryhelp,  Hatfield,  and  Moorhill,  was  a  contrast 
to  this  lymphatic  day.  I  may  recur  to  it  by-and-by,  if  time  permits. 

While  we  were  having  a  good  day  near  Trim  with  the  Meath 
hounds,  the  stag-hounds  (Ward  Union)  had  by  all  accounts  even 


HI  BERN  I  A    VENA  TIC  A.  177 

a  better.  It  was  a  by-day — not  much  bruited  about,  so  the  field 
was  most  select.  The  object  was  the  capture  of  "  London,"  the 
outlaw,  and  it  was  effected  after  a  chase  of  three  hours  and  fifteen 
minutes ;  but  the  poor  beast  had  had  too  much,  and  grass  feeding 
told  its  tale,  for  he  died  soon  afterwards. 

Mr.  Maxwell's  harriers  had  also  a  brilliant  run  with  a  hare 
over  the  Fairy  House  course,  three  miles,  at  top  speed. 


178  HIBERNIA   VENA2ICA. 


XIII. 

"  This  castle  hath  a  pleasant  seat :  the  air 
Nimbly  and  sweetly  recommends  itself 
Unto  our  gentle  senses." 


Trim — Trimlestown     and     Lord     Langford — Cryhelp — Westmeath — Water- 
jumping—Kilkenny —  Kildare,  etc. 

"  IN  Troy  there  lies  the  scene,"  says  the  poet  of  all  time.  For 
Troy,  we  must  this  time  read  Trim ;  not  so  storied,  perhaps,  as 
the  mighty  Ilium  which  is  now  disclosing  its  treasures  to  the 
archaeologist,  but  still  very  ancient,  very  historic ;  the  scene  of 
much  fierce  debate  with  sword  and  tongue  (for  the  Irish  Parlia- 
ment was  held  here  at  one  time,  and  its  sieges  are  past  counting) ; 
very  ecclesiastical  (for,  if  tradition  be  reliable,  St.  Patrick,  earliest 
of  nepotists,  planted  one  nephew  as  abbot  or  bishop  in  Trim, 
while  another  overlooked  his  clerical  flock  in  the  neighbouring 
Dunshaughlin).  What  is  far  more  to  our  purpose  is  the  fact  that 
it  is  commanded  by  a  branch  of  the  Meath  line,  and  therefore 
very  accessible  once  or  twice  a  day  from  the  metropolis;  that  it 
has  a  good  hotel  and  hunting  stables ;  and  that  it  is  in  the  heart 
of  a  splendid  hunting  district.  Trim  to  me  always  suggests  the 
corporal,  whom  Sterne  has  made  coeval  with  the  English  tongue ; 
but  a  greater  than  Corporal  Trim  stands  on  that  fine  Corinthian 
column  as  you  enter  the  town — even  the  great  Duke  of  Wellington, 
who  was  born  close  by,  at  Dangan  Castle,  who  represented  the 
borough  of  Trim  while  it  existed,  and  who  probably,  we  imagine, 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  179 

during  his  holidays,  learnt  in  the  neighbouring  fields  those  lessons 
of  venerie  which  stood  him  in  such  good  stead  during  the  tedium 
of  the  Peninsular  warfare,  and  during  the  allied  occupation  of 
France.  Few  towns  in  Ireland  are  richer  in  castellated  fragments 
than  Trim,  one  tower  being  the  highest  of  the  sort  I  can 
remember;  and  one  cannot  help  thinking  that  in  the  days  of 
bows  and  cloth-yard  shafts  the  besiegers  must  have  had  far  the 
best  of  the  shooting,  for  the  warriors  on  its  airy  parapets  must 
have  presented  a  very  small  mark  indeed  to  the  bowmen  of  Cressy 
and  Poictiers.  By  the  way,  Henry  V.  of  England  was  imprisoned 
in  one  of  these  towers  by  order  of  Richard  II. 

But  we  wax  historic.  What  says  the  proverb  about  a  live 
jackass  being  better  than  a  dead  lion  ?  So,  failing  the  lion,  let  us 
come  to  the  fox  and  his  haunt.  First  passing  over  the  old  bridge 
through  which  the  mighty  Boyne  in  majestic  flood  is  hurrying  on 
to  Drogheda  and  the  sea,  in  some  two  miles  or  so  on  the  northern 
bank  of  the  Boyne,  after  passing  some  splendid  mills,  we  come 
to  a  green-swarded  lane,  nearly  a  mile  long,  which  has  evidently 
been  an  avenue  to  yonder  ruined  pile  of  16th-century  style,  with 
embattled  towers  and  projecting  windows,  whence  once  the  lords 
of  Trimlestown  surveyed  their  ancestral  domains.  Two  or 
three  large  grass  fields  will  bring  you  to  a  low-lying  snug  gorse, 
very  secluded,  where  I  should  think  foxes  were  rarely  absent. 
Nor  was  it  unoccupied  to-day.  How  many  harboured  there  I 
know  not.  One  breaks  away  over  what  looks  a  beautiful  grass 
line,  though  the  Boyne  would  cut  it  short,  if  he  preserved  in  a 
straight,  after  a  mile  or  so.  Not  knowing  the  topography,  I  could 
not  say  what  covert  the  fox  pointed  for — perhaps  New  Haggard 
would  be  a  promising  venture — but  very  soon  he  bent  to  the  right, 
crossed  the  green  lane  I  referred  to,  and  swept  down  by  the  old  pile 
I  spoke  of  a  few  sentences  back.  Here  one  of  the  Boyne's  tribu- 
taries, usually  a  modest  rivulet,  flowed  down  in  full  spate  as  turbid 
as  the  Tiber.  There  is  one  inviting-looking  spot  only  there,  and 
some  rails  of  unknown  stiffness  at  the  far  side.  Lord  Langford, 


j8o  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

who  was  riding  a  very  smart  four-year-old — a  Blood  Royal,  I 
fancy,  and  big  of  heart  as  that  race  prove  themselves — plunges  in, 
swims  against  the  barrier,  and  fortunately  breaks  it  away.  Mr. 
Purdon  follows  him.  We,  the  polloi,  had  the  most  cogent 
reason  for  declining  the  bold  lead.  Not  that  we  were  dry ;  those 
who,  like  myself,  had  ridden  well-nigh  twenty  miles  hither,  had 
little  to  boast  of  in  that  respect,  for  the  day  was  one  long  down- 
pour— clatter  and  patter,  the  former  representing  the  horse,  the 
latter  the  dropping  rain.  But  we  were,  one  and  all,  struck  with 
hydrophobia  most  virulently.  So,  coasting  along  the  river-side, 
we  came  to  a  bridge,  while  the  hounds  ran  to  us  by  a  farm-house  ; 
so  that  our  pusillanimity  or  caution  was  actually  rewarded.  Now, 
I  hear,  we  are  going  towards  Kildalkey.  I  hope  so,  for  the  sake 
of  the  geographical  unities.  At  any  rate,  I  can  see  for  myself  that 
we  are  going  towards  the  regions  of  the  setting  sun,  and  perhaps,  if 
the  hounds  hold  on,  we  may  find  ourselves  by-and-by  at  Mullingar. 
The  outlook  now  is  over  rather  swampy  grass  fields — not  bad  riding 
at  all,  but  very  widely  ditched,  where  the  hesitators  often  remain 
on  the  wrong  side ;  but  a  turn  to  the  left  brings  us  quickly  to  small 
inclosures,  an  odd  bit  of  malignant  holding  plough,  three  or  four 
doubles,  and  singles  of  extra  size.  In  a  few  minutes  more  hounds 
have  checked  by  a  farmstead  (Mr.  Potterton's,  I  believe),  but  the 
fox  has  run  down  a  hedgerow,  and  in  a  minute  they  are  off  again 
and  crossing  the  Trim  road,  running  by  a  small  plantation,  and 
then  getting  into  an  area  of  low-lying  pastures,  drained  by  deep 
brooks.  Another  inclination  to  the  right,  and  we  are  face  to  face 
with  one  of  these  rhenes.  Mr.  Peter  Murphy,  on  a  very  smart 
four-year-old  colt,  by  The  Coroner  from  Prima  Donna,  gives  us  a 
good  lead,  and  most  get  over,  though  the  last  thing  I  saw  was 
a  sportsman  on  the  bank,  pulling  at  a  bridle  which  belonged  to 
an  engulfed  steed.  Now  we  are  on  the  Trimlestown  brook  again, 
where  Lord  Langford  had  his  swim  forty  or  fifty  minutes  ago. 
What  an  advantage  it  was  to  be  a  stranger  in  the  land,  the  waving 
line  seems  so  straight!  Our  next  step  is  to  the  original  gorse,  and 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  181 

here  we  had  a  pause  of  perhaps  ten  minutes  or  twelve,  and  these 
we  may  utilize  to  take  some  stock  of  the  surroundings.  Among 
the  strangers  or  visitors  are  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy, 
who  rode  yesterday  in,  Kildare,  or  rather  in  the  Wicklow  side  of 
the  Kildare  country,  over  a  line  the  very  antithesis  of  what  we 
have  now  crossed  (Mrs.  Candy's  young  bay  mare  of  to-day  is  a 
very  promising  one  indeed),  General  the  Hon.  L.  Curzon  Smythe, 
Lord  Rossmore,  and  M.  C.  Macdonald  Morton.  Three  sportsmen 
who  have  occupied  the  "  sick  bay,"  as  the  sailors  term  it,  for  some 
time,  are  out  again,  and  full  of  ride  as  usual— the  Earl  of  Howth, 
Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  and  Mr.  Trotter.  Among  the  lighter  weights, 
the  Hon.  Captain  Rowley  on  his  good  grey,  Captain  R.  Low  on  the 
Crow,  Captains  Crosbie  and  Fitzgerald,  and  the  Messrs  Murphy 
have  been  very  well  carried  near  the  pack,  and  so  has  young  Mr. 
Trotter ;  the  Hon.  H.  Bourke,  Mr.  Hanley,  Mr.  Barnewell,  and 
Mr.  Dunne  have  been  revelling  in  the  big  fences.  But  our  fox  is 
off  again,  and  in  a  mile  or  so  (a  repetition  of  the  morning  line) 
we  are  once  more  at  the  original  bathing-place.  The  line  then 
leads  through  Mooretown  towards  New  Haggard,  and  I  hear  in 
twenty  minutes  or  twenty-five  the  fox  was  lost.  As  every  boot  was 
now  full  of  water,  every  coat  saturated,  and  horses,  after  carrying 
many  pounds  of  liquid  measure  beyond  their  proper  burdens,  and 
over  deep  land,  must  have  had  well-nigh  enough,  I  fancy  a  general 
dispersion  took  place.  I  did  not  await  it,  trotting  homewards 
(a  big  trot  it  was)  so  soon  as  I  reached  the  highway  to  Trim. 
Saturday  in  Kildare  was  more  remarkable  for  the  size  of  the  field 
than  the  quality  of  the  sport  I  think  I  alluded  to  it  in  my  last 
letter. 

It  is  a  pleasant  thing  to  find  hunting  men  returning  to  their 
old  hunting  grounds  even  after  a  long  interval.  Lord  Oranmore 
has  located  a  very  strong  stud  at  Johnstown  for  the  Kildare 
hounds;  and  I  hear  Captain  Boulderson's  horses  (lyth  Lancers) 
will  soon  help  to  fill  the  neighbouring  stables.  Mr.  Dundas  is, 
I  think,  the  recentest  arrival  in  the  county  Meath,  where  he  has 


1 82  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

made  Kilcarty  his  hunting  quarters.  Proselytes  are  pouring 
in,  but  there  is  room  for  all,  even  in  Dunboyne,  Dunshauglin, 
and  Ratoath,  while  Naas  and  Sallins  have  still  a  few  vacancies. 
With  Saturday  the  hunting  chronicle  for  the  expiring  1876  ought, 
properly  speaking,  to  close.  There  are,  however,  one  or  two  recent 
rubrical  days,  which  time  and  space  force  me  to  slur  over  at  the 
moment  of  writing,  that  may  now  be  recurred  to  with  advantage. 
Before  doing  so,  let  me  illustrate  the  present  condition  of  hunting 
Ireland  by  two  pregnant  facts  within  my  own  experience.  Glanc- 
ing over  the  fixtures  for  early  January,  my  eye  caught  "  The 
Club  House,  Kilkenny,  for  Monday,  at  eleven."  I  telegraphed 
to  a  friend  on  the  spot  on  Saturday  night ;  his  answer  was  not 
reassuring — country  much  flooded,  or  words  to  that  effect — 
by  which  I  gathered  that  the  Nore  and  its  tributaries  had  been 
overflowing  their  banks,  and  that  the  valleys  beside  them  were 
unridable.  Now,  Kilkenny  is  some  eighty  miles  from  Dublin, 
and  the  only  railway  facility  for  reaching  that  sporting  city  is  a 
train  that,  starting  from  Kingsbridge  terminus  at  9  something  a. m., 
lands  you  on  the  outskirts  of  Kilkenny  at  11.40,  and  virtually, 
if  very  punctual,  brings  you  to  the  meeting-place  at  or  about 
noon.  Now,  the  prospect  of  catching  hounds  an  hour  after  they 
had  left  the  tryst — and  then,  perhaps,  see  them  enacting  the 
part  of  otter-hounds  rather  than  fox-hounds — was  not  inviting 
enough,  even  with  one's  imagination  fired  by  the  accounts  of 
brilliant  sport  which  the  pack  has  been  showing  this  season  ; 
so  the  eye,  sent  wandering  again  over  hunting  programmes,  rests 
delightedly  on  the  Ward  Union  stag-hounds  at  Culmullen  cross- 
roads on  Monday,  the  ist,  at  i  p.m.  Now,  a  heart  that  is  humble 
might  find  happiness  here.  Culmullen  is  celebrated  as  a  fox 
covert — celebrated,  too,  for  the  runs  which  the  stags  have  given 
when  started  from  its  gentle  undulations.  Standing  on  high,  sound 
land,  moreover,  it  is  comparatively  free  from  the  surrounding 
plague  of  water.  Culmullen  for  me,  then  !  A  hunting  we  will 
go !  Alas !  the  post,  which  reached  me  just  when  I  ought 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  183 

to  be  preparing  to  start,  brought  the  unwelcome  tidings  that 
the  Ward  Union  authorities  had  determined  to  forego,  not  only 
this  charming  meet,  but  all  others,  till  dry  weather  returned. 
I  am  not  astonished,  only  disappointed.  The  Ward  Union  area 
is  not  a  very  large  one ;  it  is  for  the  most  part  a  rich  grassy  basin, 
much  affected  by  flood  and  rain,  and  the  process  of  kneading 
this  soft  stuff  three  times  a  week  cannot  be  beneficial  to  the 
farming  interests.  Of  course  the  decision  is  a  just  and  right  one, 
though  I  wish  it  had  taken  effect  for  the  first  time  on  Wednesday 
next  instead  of  New  Year's  Day. 

"Turn  we  now"  (as  the  chronicler  in  that  most  charming 
book  of  fable,  the  "  Morte  d' Arthur,"  continually  suggests)  to 
Kildare  and  its  hounds  at  Dunlavin  on  Thursday  last,  premising 
first  of  all  that  this  thriving  inland  town  is  the  capital  of  a  fine 
upland  region  of  grass,  many  feet  above  the  sea,  and  most 
unaffected  by  the  recent  deluging  influences.  Carlow  men  very 
often  swell  the  fields  at  this  place.  The  Queen's  County,  too, 
sends  her  quota  occasionally,  while  Newbridge  and  the  Curragh 
send  their  best-mounted  representatives  there,  for  the  banks  in  the 
whole  of  this  region  require  a  well-educated  handy  horse,  with 
a  leg  to  spare  and  some  quickness  of  eye.  The  weather,  strange 
to  narrate,  was  very  fine ;  and  now  the  cavalcade  is  trotting 
off  to  Cryhelp  Gorse,  the  Baron  de  Robeck's  property — needless 
to  say,  always  full  of  foxes,  and  foxes  generally  of  a  stout,  long- 
running  caste.  The  find  was  very  quick,  and  the  usual  rush 
followed  to  the  small  gate,  which  gives  egress  when  the  fox — 
as  on  the  present  occasion — heads  Copelandwards.  He  did 
not  persevere  on  this  line,  but,  inclining  to  the  left,  seemed 
bound  for  the  mountains,  a  few  miles  eastwards  ;  but,  holding  on 
still  to  the  left,  he  kept  above  and  parallel  to  a  bit  of  boggy 
land  which  runs  in  here ;  then  crossed  the  Dunlavin  road,  by 
what  used  to  be  the  Cryhelp  School-house,  and  seemed  in 
full  swing  for  Lemonstown  Moat.  Headed  here  most  probably, 
he  turned  towards  Cryhelp  again ;  but,  finding  a  vacancy  in 


i84  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

the  borough  of  Tober,  he  filled  it,  and  was  not  disturbed  by 
petition  or  anything  else  from  the  seat.  The  time  was  nearly 
forty  minutes;  the  run  extremely  fast  and  almost  unchecked 
throughout.  Mr.  Burke,  of  the  ;th  Dragoon  Guards,  got  well 
away  through  the  gate  I  referred  to,  and  held  his  place  through- 
out; so  did  Mr.  Brunskill,  of  the  4th  Foot,  on  that  admirable 
hunter,  Sportsman,  who  seems  as  good  this  season  as  he  was 
last  year ;  and  Mr.  H.  de  Robeck  sent  his  bay  mare  along 
in  a  style  worthy  of  his  father  the  Baron.  Dirty  coats  and 
crushed  hats  bore  witness  to  rotten  banks  and  unexpected  ditches. 
Mr.  Brunskill  lost  his  hat  in  the  gallop,  but  the  pace  was  too 
good,  and  his  place  too  good,  to  give  it  a  thought.  I  hear 
Dunlavin  and  its  hatters  were  equal  to  the  emergency. 

The  Bowery  Gorse  has  become  light  and  hollow  below,  and 
did  not  hold  a  fox  to-day ;  but  Hatfield,  drawn  last  week,  was 
ready  with  foxes  in  duplicate  and  triplicate.  Two  ran  nearly  the 
same  line,  and  rather  spoilt  a  run  which  began  towards  Halvers- 
town ;  next  crossed  Mr.  Kilbee's  large  pastures  towards  Dunlavin ; 
then,  winding  through  Logatrina,  ended  at  Tober,  where  the  fox 
or  foxes  were  given  up. 

Moorhill  Glen  was  next  drawn,  and  the  hounds  were  presently 
seen  streaming  on  for  Branoxtown  ;  next  crossing  the  park  wall 
of  Harristown,  and  racing  over  that  wide  extent  of  grass  known 
as  Rochestown,  they  sent  their  fox  into  the  blackthorns  (where 
he  was  joined  by  sundry  other  foxes ;  but  there  is  no  reason  to 
suppose  a  change  was  made  there) ;  through  the  covert,  through 
the  lands  of  Geganstown,  and  Ardenode,  and  Mount  Cashel ; 
thence  over  the  Ballymore  Eustace  road,  as  if  the  still  distant 
Hollywood  was  his  aim ;  but,  whether  headed  or  finding  his 
power  failing,  our  fox  now  crossed  the  large  pastures  which  lead 
into  Moorehill,  and  here  there  was  a  slight  check.  This  allowed 
him  to  steal  away  towards  Branoxtown,  and  get  into  a  sewer. 
The  Kildare  bitches  were  sailing  along  in  this  forty-five  minutes 
at  about  their  best  pace,  starting  on  good  terms  with  their  fox, 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  185 

and  pressing  him  very  hard.  The  pace  required  good  speed  and 
condition  in  hunters  to  keep  anywhere  nigh  them,  even  in  the 
earlier  stages — the  hesitation  on  the  return  to  Moorehill  being 
about  the  only  check  or  pause  in  the  circuit. 

Thursday,  the  28th,  was  also  a  capital  day  in  Westmeath, 
producing  certainly  one  of  the  finest  runs  of  the  season.  The 
county  pack  met  at  Mosstown,  and  drew  the  old  stick  covert 
blank.  In  the  new  one  there  was  a  tenant,  but  he  was  very  hard 
to  dislodge ;  in  the  mean  time,  news  came  of  a  fox  who  had  just 
jumped  out  of  a  hedgerow.  The  hounds  were  put  on,  but 
nothing  good  resulted  from  it  Grieve  was  next  visited,  and, 
strange  to  say,  found  empty.  The  hill  covert  of  Middleton, 
however,  produced  a  good  fox,  who  started  at  once,  with  the  pack 
near  him,  in  the  direction  of  Ballynagore,  which  point  he  did  not 
reach ;  for,  turning  to  the  left,  he  made  Ballinwire,  and  thence 
ran  close  to  the  town  of  Kilbeggan,  where  he  turned  short  to  the 
right,  and  saved  himself  in  a  drain.  It  was  a  very  sharp  fifty- 
eight  minutes  over  a  good  country,  the  hounds  doing  their  work 
by  themselves,  for  they  had  beaten  off  the  field,  which  in  this 
neighbourhood  is  composed  of  hard-riding  elements.  A  lady, 
Miss  Daniel,  met  with  a  sad  accident  in  the  pursuit,  as  her  horse 
rolled  over  her,  broke  her  leg,  and  dislocated  her  shoulder,  not 
to  speak  of  bruises.  She  is,  I  rejoice  to  hear,  going  on  very  well 
so  far.  Their  next  day  was  at  New  Forest,  which  held  a  fox 
who  was  lost  without  much  sport,  and  the  rest  of  the  day  was 
wholly  uneventful. 

I  have  just  heard  of  a  proprietor  whose  coverts  are  always 
open  to  foxes,  as  well  as  to  a  large  head  of  game,  who  did  an 
act  last  week,  which,  I  think,  most  hunting  men  will  say  was 
worthy  of  general  imitation.  The  county  hounds,  on  drawing  his 
covert,  found,  'tis  true,  but  only  a  fox  caught  in  a  trap.  The  lord 
of  the  manor  instantly  sent  for  the  gentlemen  who  walk  about  in 
velveteen  attire  and  siller  ha'e  to  spare  (aye,  and  gold  and  notes 
in  battue  time,  I  fancy),  and  then  and  there  gave  them  their  conge. 


1 86  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Would  that  my  sense  of  probability  allowed  me  to  transfer  to 
your  columns  some  magnificent  hunting  episodes  I  read  of-  in  the 
dailies.  Here,  in  one  journal,  is  a  pack  of  harriers  (a  right  good 
pack  they  are,  too)  hunting  an  outlying  fox  "  at  least  nine  miles." 
"There  was  not  a  check  from  find  to  finish"  the  fox,  when  he  got 
to  ground,  "  being  viewed  not  more  than  the  length  of  his  brush 
before  the  leading  hound."  In  the  same  I  read  of  a  chase 
beginning  between  one  and  two  p.m.,  lasting  four  hours  and  a 
half,  while  the  hounds  viewed  their  noble  game  a  mile  before  they 
took  him.  Certainly,  there  is  a  moon  just  now ;  but  really ! 
How  many  hours  did  Falstaff  fight  ?  The  real  fact  being  that 
the  magnificent  run  alluded  to  lasted  three  hours  and  twenty 
minutes.  I  shall  give  a  sketch  of  it  by-and-by. 

While  making  these  observations  in  the  bitterness  and  dis- 
appointment of  my  spirit,  lo !  "  Through  the  hush'd  air  the 
whitening  shower  descends."  By  morning  light  there  was  a  very 
fair  sprinkling  of  snow  over  the  face  of  nature.  It  was  freezing, 
too  ;  but  before  nine  o'clock  a  strong  sun  was  clearing  the  roads, 
while  the  well-watered  fields  were  absorbing  much  of  the  snowfall. 
Sommerville,  the  appointed  place  for  the  Meath  hounds,  is  a  long 
way  off,  but,  certes,  'tis  well  worth  an  expedition.  I  noticed  the 
more  salient  features  of  this  fine  well-wooded,  well- watered  park, 
and  the  aspect  of  the  country  around  it,  so  recently  in  one  of  my 
letters,  that  I  may  pass  them  by  now.  The  drip  from  the  trees 
caused  by  the  thawing  snow,  probably  banished  foxes  from 
Sommerville  woodlands.  Walsh's  Gorse,  close  by,  almost  abut- 
ting on  the  park,  was  tenanted,  and  I  hear  its  fox  is  a  small 
compact  one,  quite  a  celebrity,  who  trusts  to  his  pace  and  dash, 
and  doesn't  mean  to  allow  his  mask  or  pads  to  grace  the  Meath 
kennel  doors.  He  has  given  capital  gallops,  but  has  never  yet 
been  in  imminent  danger ;  perhaps  he  had  rather  a  bad  quarter 
of  an  hour  to-day,  but  still  the  result  was  the  same.  I  think  it 
was  high  noon  when  the  hounds  sang  their  paean  of  trouvaille 
in  Walshe's  Gorse.  A  quick  find  it  was,  very  little  coquetting 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  187 

or  feinting  round  the  strong  gorse,  and  away  he  goes  towards 
Sommerville  and  the  land  of  mills,  brooks,  drains,  and  water 
meadows.  The  line  is  much  the  same  as  the  last  time  I  visited 
these  parts,  when  his  Royal  Highness  was  in  the  hunting  field. 
After  about  a  couple  of  miles,  Athcarne  Castle,  a  modernized 
square  old  keep,  is  reached.  Then  the  line  is  over  water 
meadows,  somewhat,  I  imagine,  of  the  nature  and  consistency 
of  oriental  paddy  fields  :  the  fences  are  banks  and  brooks,  brooks 
and  banks,  for  every  ditch  is  now  become,  for  the  time  being,  a 
rivulet.  The  biggest  of  these  water-ways  is  "  the  Hurley,"  where 
Mr.  Dunville  lost  a  very  good  mare  last  year.  Hounds  are  racing 
with  a  scent  which  such  atmospheric  conditions  as  to-day's,  plus 
well-watered  and  recently  flooded  grass  fields,  are  sure  to  con- 
tribute (a  noble  master  of  hounds  told  me  he  never  saw  the  pack 
go  faster  than  to-day) ;  horses  are  still  fresh,  for  they  have  not 
been  going  more  than  twenty-five  minutes,  if  so  much,  and  the 
fences  have  not  been  very  recurrent ;  but  the  grief  was  con- 
siderable, the  absorption  of  muddy  water  great.  We  are  now 
inclining  towards  a  hill  (one  of  the  chain  to  which  Garristown, 
Primatestown,  and  Kilmoon  belong),  Hawksley,  or  Hawksworth, 
I  think  'tis  called — a  very  gentle  elevation,  rising  out  of  the 
surrounding  flat  basin,  as  the  hand  pivot  out  of  the  flat  watch 
dial.  Men  are  settling  into  their  places  for  a  good  thing,  when 
a  check  occurs  near  a  farm-house ;  the  fox  has  stopped,  and  run 
his  foil.  For  a  field  or  two  the  hounds  pick  up  the  broken  thread 
and  tell  us  the  news  in  the  joyfullest  notes ;  but  the  fields  are  now 
stained  to  a  degree  ;  our  quarry  knows  the  use  of  a  brook  in 
baffling  hounds  and  their  huntsman.  After  nearly  half  a  mile 
retrogade  over  brookland,  we  have  to  give  it  up.  Now  let  us  get 
to  the  road  the  best  way  we  can.  More  brooks  in  cold  blood, 
with  banks  more  than  ever  rotten  and  broken  and  crumbled. 
But  they  must  be  got  over,  unless  you  mean  to  dine  d  la  belle 
etoile  on  watercresses  and  such  Lenten  fare,  and  all  faced  their 
perils  most  gaily,  I  must  say.  Talk  of  the  democracy  of  hunting  ! 


1 88  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Here  is  the  greater  democracy  of  bathing  (in  costume).  There  in 
one  ditch,  a  padre  and  a  horse-breaker  may  be  seen  wallowing 
together ;  Lords,  Commons,  and  medicine  in  an  adjoining  one  ! 
Presently,  I  see  a  manly  form  taking  off  his  coat  and  shaking  it — 
I  suppose,  to  clear  the  pockets.  The  ladies'  horses  behaved  very 
well.  I  did  not  see  a  single  immersion,  and  not  a  few  were  out 
to-day. 

The  cavalcade  is  now  reunited  on  the  road;  we  can  take 
stock  of  our  party.  Mrs.  Dunville  has  had  a  capital  survey  of 
the  water  party  from  her  hunting  phaeton,  which  to-day  holds 
an  extra  passenger — one  of  the  neatest  fox-terriers  I  ever  saw. 
Louth,  whose  hunting  list  has  been  temporarily  cancelled  from 
the  melancholy  cause  I  referred  to,  is  in  great  force ;  among  her 
daughters  being  Mrs.  Osborne,  the  Misses  Gradwell  (three),  and 
Messrs.  Jameson,  Tiernan,  M'Naughten,  Pepper,  Osborne,  and 
many  more  of  the  followers  of  Mr.  Filgate's  musicians.  Among 
the  visitors  are  the  Earl  of  Howth,  Mr.  Trotter,  Mr.  Dunville, 
Lord  Algernon  Lennox,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy, 
Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  Lord  Rossmore,  the  Hon.  H.  Bourke 
(though  he  belongs  to  Meath),  Captain  Low,  the  Messrs.  Hone, 
Captain  C.  Ponsonby,  Mr.  and  Miss  Coleridge.  Dublin  and  its 
Garrison  were,  I  think,  wholly  unrepresented,  and,  strange  to  say, 
the  Ward  Union  men  sent  very  few  champions  to  the  white  list 
to-day.  We  are  now  en  route  for  Corballis  Gorse — a  strong  one 
still,  though  half  has  been  cut  down.  The  find  was  quick,  the 
exodus  quick  also.  Scent  seemed  very  good,  for  the  hounds  got 
well  ahead  of  their  followers  in  a  few  fields,  but  the  race  was  most 
uneventful.  A  series  of  gaps  in  half-a-dozen  fields  led  us  into 
Corbalton  Park ;  then  succeeded  a  game  of  hide-and-seek  in 
plantations  and  shrubberies  by  the  avenue,  at  which  the  fox  got 
worsted,  for  in  a  few  minutes,  I  think,  as  I  was  starting  home- 
wards, I  heard  the  who-whoop  for  five  or  six  minutes  seemingly 
inevitable.  Lismullen,  I  hear,  produced  a  third  fox,  who  was 
taken  into  Dowdstown  at  good  pace,  but  the  pack  were  here 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  189 

stopped.  Mr.  S.  Garnett,  I  grieve  to  hear,  met  with  rather  a  severe 
accident  from  a  collision.  As  we  were  riding  to  the  latter  gorse 
my  attention  was  called  to  some  wire  stretched  along  a  boundary 
fence  by  the  road  side  (not  treacherous  wire  run  through  thorns, 
or  hanging  from  tree  to  tree,  but  with  its  legitimate  supports  of 
posts) ;  on  either  side  telegraph  posts  had  been  erected,  in  one 
case  to  show  where  the  wire  ceased  and  the  fence  was  open  to 
jump ;  in  the  other,  to  indicate  a  set  of  sliding  posts  and  rails, 
through  which  a  hunt  might  pass  with  very  little  trouble  or  delay. 
The  story  goes  that  the  present  owner  of  the  property  had  lost  two 
good  runs  by  the  wire  barrier,  and  that  when  he  came  into  pos- 
session he  talked  about  it  to  the  farmer  in  occupation,  Mr.  Cassidy, 
who  promptly  carried  out  his  ideas  in  the  efficient  manner  I  have 
described,  or  attempted  to  describe.  Wire  is  comparatively  rare 
in  Dublin  and  Meath ;  but  I  do  know  one  farm  in  the  Ward 
Union  country  where  wire  has  been  suspended  from  posts,  or 
rather  run  through  posts  on  either  side  of  the  road,  the  posts 
standing  on  the  banks — the  original  barrier.  Now  the  posts  have 
given  way  in  most  cases,  and  the  wire  is  hanging  in  a  limp  sort 
of  fashion  half  way  down  the  bank,  where  many  a  well-trained 
hunter  would  plant  his  fore  feet  before  springing.  The  wire  has 
ceased  to  be  of  much  avail  as  a  fence ;  as  a  snare,  it  is  capable  of 
any  amount  of  mischief.  I  mention  this  circumstance  in  the  hope 
that  Mr.  Dunville's  (for  he  is  the  landlord)  happy  notions  may  be 
carried  out  here  by  the  occupier.  I  saw  myself  a  very  narrow 
escape  from  an  accident  at  the  same  fence.  There  is  a  con- 
siderable drop  into  the  road,  and  broken  knees  and  broken  necks 
seem  not  unlikely  results  from  a  turn  over — horresco  referens  / 
There  were  a  few  very  nice  young  horses  out  to-day.  Mr.  Morris 
was  on  a  very  neat  mare  by  the  Knave  of  Hearts,  Mr.  Saurin  rode 
a  thoroughbred,  a  son  of  Kingsley's  (by  King  Tom).  I  hear  this 
pack  killed  a  fox  in  a  most  patient  and  persevering  manner 
yesterday,  running  and  walking  for  nearly  two  hours ;  the  find  in 
Clonabraney. 


1 90  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

I  alluded  in  my  last  letter  to  a  very  remarkable  run,  in  which 
the  outlaw  deer  London  was  taken.  Let  me  now  supply  the 
particulars.  The  date  was  Friday,  the  2Qth  ult,  when  Mr.  Turbitt, 
accompanied  by  Messrs.  Hone,  O'Reilly,  Murland,  D'Arcy, 
Wilson,  and  Jem  Brindley,  the  whip,  went  forth  in  quest  of  the 
truant  with  nine  and  a  half  couple  of  hounds,  of  whom  four 
couples  were  from  Mr.  Turbitt's  pack  of  drag-hounds.  I  should 
add  that  Mr.  Turbitt  held  the  horn  in  the  absence  of  Charley 
Brindley.  At  12.45  they  found  their  quarry  in  Knockcommon 
Wood ;  his  course  lay  through  Loughlinstown,  by  Slater's  Gorse, 
to  the  hill  of  the  rock  into  Somerville,  where  he  jumped  the  park 
wall  yft.  high,  thence  along  the  river  to  Balrath  police  barracks ; 
and  here,  after  a  very  quick  burst  of  twenty-seven  minutes,  came 
a  check.  The  line  was  hit  off  again  in  Ballymagarney  Wood,  and 
it  led  on  through  Irishtown,  Temorn,  to  White's  Cross,  by  Garlins- 
toun,  to  the  commons  of  Duleek,  by  the  Lough  of  Clonlusk,  to 
Sodstown,  and  here  the  deer  was  safely  taken  in  the  river,  at  4.5 
p.m.,  but  died  presently  of  exhaustion,  stiffening  like  a  fox.  All 
I  hear  went  well ;  but  Mr.  J.  Hone,  Mr.  Wilson  on  a  four-year- 
old,  half-brother  to  Umpire,  Mr.  O'Reilly  on  his  old  chestnut,  and 
Jem  Brindley  on  Safety,  alone  saw  the  finish.  Only  one  couple 
of  hounds  was  wanting  at  the  capture. 

Wednesday  was  a  dies  non  so  far  as  hunting  in  Meath  was 
concerned.  A  south-easter,  laden  with  a  vast  amount  of  water, 
swept  over  the  eastern  shores  of  Ireland,  involving  the  almost 
total  suspension  of  traffic  by  rail  and  road,  and  flooding  everything 
within  reach  of  its  influence.  The  Meath  hounds  came  to  Clifton 
Lodge;  but  hunting  under  such  conditions  was  a  mauvaise plaisan- 
terie  of  which  no  one  seemed  ambitious ;  so  the  surrounding  foxes 
had  a  week  or  ten  days'  respite.  Whether  the  violence  of  the 
rainstorm  in  Kildare  was  partially  broken  by  the  eastern  barrier 
of  the  Dublin  and  Wicklow  Hills  I  know  not.  At  any  rate,  the 
usual  select  party  went  down  from  Sallins  station  to  Athy  with  the 
dog  pack,  found  no  weather  to  mar  (much  less  veto)  hunting,  and, 


HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A.  191 

as  a  reward  for  their  adventure,  had  a  very  satisfactory  afternoon 
and  a  fine  long  hunting  run  over  a  good,  sound,  ridable  line,  with 
the  opening  twenty  minutes  as  fast  as  need  be  wished  for. 
Avoiding  the  Barrow  valley,  the  hounds  first  drew  the  moat  of 
Ardskull  Gorse;  but  for  once  this  season  it  was  foxless. 
Narraghmore  Wood,  however,  the  second  venture,  was,  as  usual, 
well  stocked ;  and  the  hounds,  settling  to  one,  ran  him  at  great 
pace  over  those  pastures  which  the  winding  Greise  drains,  Sprats- 
town  being  left  on  the  right  hand ;  thence  over  the  hill  ridge  by 
Blackrath,  down  the  narrow  valley,  and  up  to  "  Mat  Conran's " 
hill  snuggery,  where  there  was  a  pause,  but  only  a  brief  one,  the 
track  leading  on  over  the  sound  grass  fields  to  the  eastward  of  the 
gorse,  across  the  Ballitore  road,  and  into  Ballynure,  Mr.  Henry 
Carroll's  park,  till  this  stout  fox  found  a  refuge  in  a  burrow  not  far 
from  Grange.  The  Kildare  hounds  had  the  good  fortune  not  only 
to  be  able  to  hunt  on  this  day  of  storm,  but  to  give  their  followers 
a  very  fine  run,  which  could  not  have  been  much  short  of  nine 
miles.  All  the  other  packs  within  my  ken  found  it  simply  im- 
possible to  attempt  hunting.  The  Meath  hounds,  as  recorded, 
tried  it  and  failed ;  the  Kilkenny  hounds  were  equally  weather- 
baffled.  In  both  the  latter  fields  were  men  to  whom  weather  is  no 
personal  consideration,  who  abound  in  good  hunters  in  going  trim, 
and  yet  their  voices  were  against  hunting.  By-the-by,  on  that 
Monday  when  the  telegraph  warned  me  to  turn  back  from 
Kilkenny  and  its  hunting  grounds,  this  pack  had  very  fine  sport, 
and  within  a  few  miles  of  the  famous  city  itself.  The  morning 
began  with  a  ring  from  Troy's  Wood,  where  Mr.  James  Poe's  strict 
preservation  makes  rather  a  small  covert  always  a  holding  one. 
Several  coverts  were  then  drawn  blank,  and  a  number  of  the  field 
rode  homewards  ;  the  few  who  stuck  to  the  hounds  had  their 
reward.  From  Sutcliffe's  Gorse  a  good  fox  broke  for  Ballykeefe, 
but  was  turned  from  this  point,  and  forced  to  run  past  Castle 
Blunden  through  Kilcreene,  by  Grange  Wood,  Dunmana,  and 
Ballycallan,  to  Knockroe,  where  pursuers  only  numbered  three — 


1 92  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Colonel  Chaplin,  the  master,  riding  Shiner  (whom  I  have  often 
mentioned  in  your  columns),  Major  Bunbury,  and  Captain 
Bunbury,  of  the  Scots  Greys.  Where  the  hounds  were  stopped  I 
cannot  say ;  but  I  heard  they  killed  in  the  gorse. 

The  same  Monday  brought  Mr.  Hamilton  Stubber  also  a  very 
first-class  run.  It  began  from  Lennon's  Gorse,  and  passing 
Moyadd  and  Chatsworth,  led  on  to  Castlecomer,  where  a  flooded 
river  stopped  the  fox's  career  for  a  few  minutes,  and  when  he 
summoned  up  resolution  to  try  it  again  he  was  run  into.  I  heard 
that  in  breaking  up  this  fox  one  of  the  pack  got  choked  by  a  bone. 
Lord  Waterford  also  had  a  capital  Monday,  killing  after  a  fine 
pursuit,  but  particulars  have  not  reached  me  yet. 

On  Friday,  the  5th,  the  Meath  card  invited  all  and  singular 
to  meet  the  county  pack  at  Summerhill,  Lord  Langford's  park,  to 
which  meeting-point  your  readers  have  frequently  accompanied 
me  this  season.  Nature,  wearied  out  with  the  tumults  of  the  past 
seven  or  eight  days,  was  hushed  in  the  completes!  repose;  a  bright 
luminous  atmosphere  was  lit  up  by  a  strong  sun ;  the  rushing  and 
roaring  of  innumerable  streams,  hurrying  with  their  watery  tribute 
to  the  sea,  was  comparatively  stilled,  and  much  of  the  surface 
water  had  been  absorbed  during  the  last  forty-eight  hours.  Alto- 
gether the  outlook  was  very  cheerful,  and  the  day  was  gaudy  in 
the  extreme;  there  was  a  sting  in  the  south-easterly  wind  which 
might  lead  one  to  expect  a  good  scent  over  the  well-soaked  grass 
lands.  The  fine  outlines  of  Lord  Langford's  handsome  .residence 
never,  to  my  eye,  showed  to  greater  advantage  than  in  the  floods 
of  light  which  enveloped  it  to-day,  revealing  every  bit  of  its  archi- 
tectural symmetry,  while  the  court-yard  in  front  was  gay  with  the 
many-coloured  figures  who  passed  and  repassed  the  stone  steps ; 
ladies  driving,  ladies  riding;  scarlet  pursuers,  black-and-white 
pursuers ;  while  cynosure  of  all  who  ride  to  hunt  and  not  hunt  to 
ride  were  the  dog  pack,  bright  of  colour  and  bright  of  condition, 
shepherded  by  Goodall,  J.  Bishop,  and  young  Rees;  for,  strangely 
enough,  I  hear  the  second  whip  in  Meath  and  the  first  in  West- 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  193 

meath  have  both  been  temporarily  disabled  by  kicks,  and  both  on 
the  same  date — last  Tuesday. 

The  inviting  forenoon  and  the  interregnum  of  two  whole 
days  without  hunting  have  brought  out  the  Meath  array  in  great 
numbers  and  force,lhough  Mr.  S.  Garnett's  pleasant  presence  from 
the  hunting  field  is  not  a  little  missed.  I  alluded,  I  think,  to  his 
accident  last  Tuesday  evening  when  hunting  with  this  pack  at 
Lismullen ;  let  me  now  state  that  his  shoulder  was  put  out,  but, 
most  fortunately,  Colonel  Fraser  and  one  or  two  more  of  his 
friends  slipped  it  into  its  socket  then  and  there,  so  he  may  be 
etpected  to  be  in  the  saddle  ere  many  days.  The  soldiers  were 
represented  by  Captain  Graves  Sawle,  A.D.C.,  Captains  Wardrop 
and  Yatman,  and  one  or  two  more  of  the  3rd  Dragoons ;  while 
among  the  visitors  were  Lords  Rossmore  and  Algernon  Lennox, 
Mr.  C.  Macdonald  Morton,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy, 
the  Hon.  Captain  Harbord,  Captain  R.  Barton,  and  Mr.  Rose  ; 
and  from  Kildare  came  the  Earl  of  Clonmell,  Mr.  W.  Forbes, 
Mr.  A.  More  O'Ferrall,  Mr.  Percy  and  Lady  Annette  La  Touche, 
Lord  Cloncurry,  Mr.  F.  Rynd,  Mr.  Blacker,  Captain  Davis,  etc. 
Summerhill,  according  to  its  wont,  abounded  in  foxes.  One  was 
rattled  about  the  woods  for  some  time,  taken  along  towards  Agher, 
and  killed.  Then  followed  more  park-hunting  in  Agher,  some 
refreshing  of  hunting  pilgrims  at  Summerhill,  an  ineffectual  visit 
to  the  Bullring  Gorse,  less  excitement  than  usual  at  the  Bullring 
double  (by  the  way,  this  may  be  evaded  by  jumping  two  small 
singles,  which  ain't  equal  to  a  double),  and  then  we  are  once  more 
drawn  up  outside  Rahinstown  Gorse,  which  we  drew  successfully 
only  a  few  days  ago.  Suspense  is  very  short  here.  A  quick  find 
is  followed  by  a  quick  exit.  The  country  round  here  is  most 
unlike  the  Ward  Union  side  of  Meath  ;  peat  alternates  with 
gravelly  hills,  and  even  the  better  land  seems  to  have  been  moor 
at  one  time.  So  down  we  go  one  of  these  gravelly  pitches,  and, 
ascending  another  very  sharp  hill,  see  the  pack  streaming  away 
over  a  bit  of  pasture  land,  carrying  a  head  which  looked  as  if  a 

o 


194  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

fox  had  little  chance  with  them  to-day.  In  two  fields  more  there 
is  a  road — the  Enfield  road,  I  think — over  which  the  pack  flash, 
throwing  up  their  heads  in  a  field  on  the  far  side.  All  in  vain  are 
forward  casts ;  so  Goodall  takes  them  back  half  a  field,  and  in  a 
minute  they  are  hunting  away,  taking  the  line  by  a  bit  of  unre- 
claimed bog  on  through  Baconstown  lands,  across  the  Enfield 
road,  into  Mr.  Dillon's  farm,  then  across  another  road  as  if 
Cappagh  Gorse  were  our  fox's  point,  when  a  bend  to  the  right 
brings  us  into  Ryndville ;  and  here,  knowing  that  the  earths  were 
open  (it  is  a  Kildare  covert),  I  left  the  hounds  still  hunting.  Had 
it  not  been  for  the  long  check  at  the  road,  this  fox  would  have 
been  obliged  to  travel  very  fast  to  reach  his  goal,  for  scent  was 
serving  and  good.  It  was  not  a  nice  country  to  cross;  the  fences 
were  ragged  and  trappy,  and  the  inclosures  small  for  the  most 
part,  but  the  land  rode  far  lighter  than  might  have  been  antici- 
pated. I  should  mention  that  Mr.  Waller  declined  to  draw 
Garradice  and  Beltrasna  Corses  to-day,  owing  to  his  wish  to  avoid 
poaching  the  wet  grass  lands  around  them. 

The  best  gallop  the  Wexford  hounds  have  had  recently  was 
on  Thursday  week,  forty  minutes  from  Dunbrody  Flax  Mills. 
The  Kildare  hounds  ran  very  fast,  I  hear,  from  Elverstown  to 
Punchestown  on  Tuesday;  while  the  Westmeath  hounds  gave 
those  who  remained  out  long  enough  to  see  it  a  very  fine  run 
from  Clonlost  to  Knockdrin  (Sir  Richard  Levinge's  fine  park)  via 
Clondriss  and  Edmonton  and  back  again,  on  the  evening  of  the 
same  day. 

The  Kildare  hounds  had  a  bumper  meet  at  Courtown  Gate  on 
Saturday,  the  6th  inst.,  the  Meath  and  Ward  Union  men  swelling 
the  array  very  considerably.  A  good  fox,  found  at  once  at  Cour- 
town in  a  clump  of  trees,  took  the  hounds  along  at  capital  pace 
by  Laragh,  over  the  brook  to  Lady  Chapel,  as  if  he  was  bound  for 
Colestown  in  Meath  ;  but,  though  within  a  few  fields  of  Maynooth, 
he  did  not  persevere  on  this  tack,  but  made  his  way  to  the  much 
nearer  Taghadoe  Gorse,  and  thence  on  to  Dowdstown.  The  very 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  195 

few  who  saw  the  beginning  of  this  run  enjoyed  it  extremely,  though 
some  of  them  did  not  get  over  the  brook  without  a  thorough 
drenching. 

A  second  fox,  found  in  Cullen's  Gorse,  ran  through  Dowdstown 
Lands  to  Taghadoe,  and  thence  over  a  fine  country,  but  in  a  most 
circuitous  fashion,  back  to  Taghadoe.  A  rainstorm  coming  on 
probably  killed  the  early  scent,  and  after  this  most  of  the  distant 
comers  dispersed,  few  following  the  pack  to  Lodge  Park.  J  wind 
up  with  an  extract  from  the  Pau  Gazette  of  the  nth  ult.,  just 
received  :  "  Captain  Cosby,  as  he  rode  so  splendidly  his  horse, 
elicited  much  admiration  for  his  noble  bearing  and  manly  erecti- 
tude."  The  ex-master  of  the  Irish  hounds  was,  in  fact,  feted  un- 
consciously. 

P.S. — The  Meath  hounds  have  begun  the  week  right  royally. 
On  Monday  they  had  a  brilliant  thirty-four  minutes,  from  Gibstown 
to  Dunmoe,  which  only  five  saw  satisfactorily — Lieut. -Colonel 
Fraser,  V.C.,  Lord  Algernon  Lennox,  Captain  Trotter,  Mr.  Walker 
(I  think),  and  Goodall.  On  Tuesday  they  were  blessed  with  the 
most  driving  scent,  and  they  forced  a  fox  from  Corbalton  to 
Gerrardstown,  thence  by  Dunshauglin  to  Lagore,  on  by  the  Poor- 
house  Gorse  to  Ratoath  village,  and  here  they  lost  him.  The 
pace  was  very  animating,  the  line  some  of  the  cream  of  the  Ward 
country,  and  the  distance  very  considerable.  I  must  recur  to  this 
when  space  is  freer. 

The  Kildare  hounds  had  a  fine  long  hunting  run  on  Tuesday 
afternoon  from  the  Downshire,  a  very  fast  fifty-five  minutes  from 
Tinonode  in  the  evening.  The  Ward  men  had  a  good  gallop  on 
Wednesday. 

In  my  observations  on  Mr.  Morrogh's  hunter  (who  is  since 
dead)  I  never  meant  to  cast  any  reflection  on  Farrell's  Repository 
in  Dublin,  so  well  known  to  all  amateurs  of  horses.  As  a  matter 
of  fact,  I  have  since  learned  that  the  horse  showed  symptoms  of 
tetanus  soon  after  arriving  there.  Copers  cope  there,  as  at  Tatt's 
and  everywhere  else,  but  always  within  legitimate  bounds. 


196  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 


XIV. 

1  Thou  think'st  'tis  much  that  this  contentious  storm 
Invades  us  to  the  skin." 


Courtown  company—  Corbalton  chase — Punchestown  programme — Dangan 
Bridge — Sam  Reynell's  death — Mr.  Burton  Persse. 

I  WILL  begin  this  letter  with  words  of  good  augury ;  for  surely 
we  are  all  tired  of  this  constant  omnipresent  rain,  which  takes 
all  the  "grit "  out  of  our  hunters,  ruins  our  war  paint  and  hunting 
kit,  makes  our  servants  melancholy  and  mishippical,  M.F.H.'s 
testy,  farmers  short  and  reflective,  and  upsets  the  domestic  coach, 
from  the  cradle  to  the  saddle  room,  from  basement  to  attic, 
in  more  ways  than  I  can  here  undertake  to  narrate.  The  glass 
is  rising,  and  no  rain  worthy  to  be  classed  with  either  the  "former" 
or  the  "  latter  rain  "  has  fallen  for  two  whole  days.  Let  me  para- 
phrase Pope's  well-known  couplet : 

"  Accept  a  miracle  instead  of  wit — 

See  two  dull  lines  by  Stanhope's  pencil  writ," 
into — 

"  Behold  the  age  of  miracles  again  ! 
Two  days  have  passed  with  very  little  rain  ! " 

The  floods — to  use  the  beautiful  language  of  a  "mighty 
hunter" — no  longer  clap  their  hands.  The  rushing  and  rustling 
of  myriad  streams  and  rills,  all  plying  their  watery  task  with 
intense  zeal,  no  longer  fills  the  ear.  The  overflowing  surface 
water  has  vanished  from  many  a  furrow,  leaving  the  grass  sere 
and  sickly  of  hue  as  if  its  life  blood  had  been  poisoned.  True, 


HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A.  197 

there  is  a  great  deal  of  the  vale  still  under  the  dominion  of  water ; 
and  a  moonlight  view  of  much  of  the  low  land  when  the  air 
is  still  is  like  the  sheen  of  silver.  But  Smith  of  Deanston  has 
made  us  hopeful  for  the  future;  our  hunting  area  is  mainly 
under  his  beneficent  influence  (some  say  too  much  so),  and 
two  or  three  days  of  drying  winds  and  cessation  of  showers 
will  put  a  vast  deal  of  the  country  into  good  going  order  once 
more.  Like  King  Lear,  "I  tax  ye  not,  ye  elements."  Half 
a  season  unchecked  is  a  good  long  run.  Dona  prasentis  cape 
Icetus  horce  is  good  Latin,  and  still  better  counsel.  If  the  going 
be  deep,  the  falling  is  soft,  and  it  does  not  require  the  acumen 
of  a  Gully  nowadays  to  tell  us  of  the  virtue  of  cold  compresses 
for  many  of  the  pains  and  aches  that  flesh  inherits. 

The  mention  of  the  cold-water  cure  brings  me  to  Saturday, 
the  6th  inst.,  and  its  burden  of  sport  in  Kildare,  to  which  I 
could  only  allude  en  passant  in  the  last  budget  I  sent  you.  The 
Kildare  hounds  met  that  day  at  Courtown  Gate,  which,  for  the 
information  of  distant  readers,  I  may  state  is  not  a  turnpike 
(we  have  abolished  that  nuisance  in  Ireland  long  ago),  but  a 
somewhat  ambitious  entrance  to  a  spacious  park,  where  Captain 
and  Mrs.  Davis  have  for  some  years  found  a  capital  stage  for 
the  exercise  of  that  hunting  hospitality  which  is  one  of  the 
great  social  attractions  of  the  royal  sport,  and  where  the  Aylmer 
family  before  them — the  proprietors  of  the  property — ever  made 
sport  and  hospitality  go  hand  in  hand.  Courtown  Gate  is  within 
a  mile  of  Kilcocfc,  a  most  important  station  on  the  Midland 
line  of  rails,  and  bringing  this  fixture  within  less  than  an  hour 
of  Dublin,  and  not  much  more  of  many  places  in  Western 
Meath ;  while  it  is  just  within  hunting  range  of  what  I  may 
call  the  cis-Boyne  part  of  Meath — of  nearly  all  Kildare,  includ- 
ing the  soldier  population  of  Newbridge  and  the  Curragh.  The 
country  around  Courtown  is  almost  uninterruptedly  pasture 
land,  flat,  but  without  any  tendency  to  peat  or  red  bog.  The 
fields  are  large  comparatively,  the  fences  sound  generally,  and 


198  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

mainly  singles,  and,  on  the  whole,  the  hunting  surroundings 
are  not  very  dissimilar  to  what  the  eye  ranges  over  in  many 
portions  of  the  Ward  Union  country.  It  is  not  to  be  wondered 
at,  then,  that  Mr.  Mansfield  had  a  bumper  meet,  and  that  his 
chancellor  of  exchequer  had  siller  to  spare,  as  his  take  of  half- 
crowns  swelled  up  to  the  amount  of  a  good  many  pounds.  By 
the  way,  let  me  give  a  conundrum  somebody  suggested  apropos 
of  this  half-crown  collection  : — What  would  be  the  proper  desig- 
nation for  the  crime  of  robbing  the  collector,  say  hustling  him 
at  a  fence,  and  picking  up  the  half-crowns  when  he  was  picking 
himself  up?  Why,  silver  guilt  to  be  sure.  The  overflow  of 
Ward  Union  men,  who  are  just  now  flooded  out  of  their  own 
dear  hunting  grounds,  was  something  to  see — nearly  a  dozen 
boxes  from  the  Broadstone  terminus,  and  a  special  train  to 
Kilcock,  Among  the  occupants  were  Lieut-Colonel  Forster, 
Captain  Ward  Bennett,  Captain  O'Neal,  and  several  of  the  Innis- 
killings ;  a  detachment  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards ;  Captain  R. 
Barton,  Mr.  Waldron,  Messrs.  Turbitt,  Rose,  Coppinger,  Gore, 
and  Hone — of  the  latter  name  I  think  I  counted  some  five  or  six 
out — for  as  'tis  given  to  some  to  inherit  silver  spoons,  the  Hone 
family  appear  to  me  to  have  a  sort  of  birthright  to  good  hunters, 
and  the  faculty  of  riding  them  straight. 

Among  the  visitors  from  Meath  were  Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  the 
Hon.  Captain  Harbord,  Lord  Algernon  Lennox,  Captain  and 
the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Lord  Langford,  Captain  Trotter,  Mr. 
Trotter,  Mr.  George  Murphy,  Mr.  P.  Murphy,  Mr.  Dunne,  Mr. 
Brown,  Mr.  M'Gerr,  Mr.  Rafferty.  Newbridge  and  the  Curragh 
were  well  represented  by  Major  Dent  and  some  of  his  brother 
officers  of  the  7th  Dragoons,  Captain  Hanning-Lee,  A.D.C., 
Mr.  M'Donnell,  R.H.A. ;  while  among  the  many  Kildare  pur- 
suers were  the  Earl  of  Clonmel,  the  Earl  of  Mayo,  Mr.  W.  Forbes 
and  his  sons,  the  Hon.  C.  Bourke,  the  Hon.  Maurice  Bourke, 
Lord  Cloncurry,  the  Hon.  E.  Lawless,  Mr.  F.  Tynte,  Mr.  Percy  La 
Touche,  Mr.  W.  Blacker,  Mr.  More  O'Ferrall,  General  Irwin,  Captain 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  199 

Irwin,  the  Baron  de  Robeck,  Mr.  D.  Mahony,  Mr.  S.  Moore  and 
Captain  St.  Leger  Moore,  Mr.  Cook  Trench,  Mr.  R.  Bushe, 
Mr.  Kirkpatrick,  Captain  Tuthill,  Mr.  Gerald  Brook,  the  Messrs. 
Kennedy  (three),  Captain  R.  Mansfield,  the  Messrs.  Rynd,  etc. 

The  morning  was  mild  in  the  extreme,  but  dark  withal,  and  the 
clouds  seemed  laden  with  their  daily  burden  of  rain  destined  to 
fall  ere  many  hours  had  gone  by.  The  road  men  were,  on  the 
whole,  very  punctual ;  not  so  the  large  numbers  who  had  entrusted 
themselves  to  the  tender  mercies  of  the  rails ;  however,  there  is 
hope  for  them.  Courtown  has  held  foxes  of  late,  and  right  good 
ones  too;  but  the  chances  are  strongly  against  their  waiting 
patiently  for  the  investigating  pack  in  these  hollow,  skirting  planta- 
tions and  thin  clumps,  while  wheels  are  grinding  all  round  them, 
and  the  clatter  of  a  century  or  two  of  hunters  and  covert  hacks 
puts  the  most  somnolent  hen-harrier  on  his  guard,  and  warns  him 
of  peril  imminent  in  some  shape  or  other.  Hence  a  find  at 
Courtown,  when  the  meet  is  at  the  Gate,  is  far  from  a  certainty ; 
and  a  move  to  the  neighbouring  large  gorse  of  Ballycaghan  is 
generally  the  order  of  proceeding  before  the  business  of  the  day 
has  begun  in  earnest.  This  gorse  is  so  large,  and  takes  so  much 
drawing  and  forcing,  that  the  tardy  and  train-stayed  can  generally 
hope  to  pick  up  the  pack  here,  though,  needless  to  say,  they  run 
a  certain  amount  of  risk  in  the  venture.  To-day,  however,  was 
a  day  of  surprises.  A  fox  jumped  out  of  a  small  clump  of  trees 
in  the  park,  raced  across  it,  and,  leaping  the  boundary  fence  into 
the  road,  started  off  at  once  in  the  direction  of  Laragh,  the  pack 
on  good  terms  with  him,  and  scent  evidently  most  serving.  Now, 
to  jump  a  nasty  drop  into  a  road,  for  the  initial  fence,  before  nerves 
are  properly  braced  is  a  strong  measure,  and  requires  resolution  in 
man  and  his  mount.  Some  did  not  hit  on  the  nicest  spot : 
perhaps  others,  if  they  did  select  a  good  place,  were  not  prompt 
and  decided  enough  in  action.  At  any  rate,  though  hounds  did 
not  check,  men  and  horses  paused  considerably,  and  I  fancy  a  few 
made  a  full  stop  of  it  Laragh  Gorse  is  here  skirted,  but  the  river 


2oo  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

has  to  be  done,  and  that,  too,  occasioned  a  little  more  delay/for 
not  a  few  good  men  (two  who  have  held  the  horn  in  their  turn 
among  them)  came  in  for  a  ducking.  The  fox  now  crosses  the 
road  which  leads  from  Maynooth  to  Courtown,  and  appears 
sailing  away  for  Laragh  Brien  en  route,  it  may  be,  to  "the  Hatchet," 
Colistown,  or  Mulhussey  Gorse  in  Meath.  At  the  road  there  is 
a  partial  check  for  a  minute  or  so,  but  Will  Freeman  soon  hits  off 
the  line  by  a  quick  fence,  on  towards  Maynooth  and  the  Midland 
line ;  but  something  or  other  has  turned  our  gallant  red  rover, 
perhaps  the  vision  of  a  train,  a  barge,  or  a  canal  boat,  and  he  now 
turns  round,  and  in  a  mile  or  rather  more  of  slow  hunting  by 
Lady  Chapel  lands  we  bring  him  into  Taghadoe  Gorse,  whence, 
after  a  few  minutes,  he  is  forced  out  and  hunted  into  Dowdstown. 

The  first  three  miles  of  the  run  were  very  good  ;  and  between 
the  leading  division  and  the  rear  rank  there  must  have  been  an 
interval  of  fully  a  mile.  Among  the  former  were  the  master, 
Lord  Langford,  Captain  Trotter,  W.  R.  Kennedy  and  his  nephew, 
the  Hon.  E.  Lawless,  Captain  O'Neal,  Mr.  Bayley,  and  a  few  more. 

Cullens  Gorse,  which  has  been  appealed  to  so  very  often  this 
year,  and  never  that  I  can  remember  in  vain,  again  furnished 
pabulum  for  sport.  A  very  quick  find,  a  race  over  a  pasture  field, 
a  fly  into  most  sobering  plough,  a  road  and  the  next  field  gained, 
crossed  by  a  nasty  quickset  hedge  and  ditch,  a  smart  gallop  into 
Taghadoe,  with  half-a-dozen  flying  fences  en  route,  including 
a  quasi  brook ;  a  jam  at  the  gate  which  must  have  been  put  up 
before  Kildare  became  a  fashionable  hunting  centre,  and  we  are 
once  more  sailing  on  towards  Laragh  and  Courtown  again ;  about 
half  way  thither  two  gunners  and  a  dog  scare  our  fox,  who,  unwill- 
ing to  give  up  his  point,  tries  to  compass  it  by  a  flank  movement. 
But  all  in  vain,  fresh  obstacles  apparently  diverting  him  from  his 
object ;  and  so  we  wind  round  grass  fields  and  get  back  to 
Taghadoe  for  the  third  time  to-day,  though  nof  till  a  good  many, 
like  Horace  and  his  friend  at  Philippi, 

"  Turpe  solum  tetigere  mento." 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  201 

The  motive  cause  being  a  double,  rather  lean  and  narrow  in  the 
shoulder,  where  I  saw  my  two  predecessors  involuntarily  making 
Catherine-wheels  in  mid-air.  Straffan  furnished  the  third  f6x  of 
the  day,  but  his  pursuit  to  Clongowes  Woods  hardly  calls  for  much 
notice — the  inevitable  downpour  closes  the  day.  Whether  it  was 
a  sudden  afflatus  or  contagion,  I  know  not — whether  the  fact  of 
Meath,  Ward,  and  Kildare  meeting  on  a  fine  arena  had  anything 
to  do  with  thrusting,  it  is  not  for  me  to  say.  Certain  it  is  that 
men  meant  riding  up  to  the  motto  "  Be  with  them  I  will,"  and 
to-day  falls  and  immersions  had  no  deterrent  effect ;  of  both  there 
was  a  good  crop,  with  no  bad  results  apparently,  though  Major 
Dent  got  rather  a  hard  squeeze. 

I  have  just  read,  in  your  sporting  contemporary's  last  issue,  of 
a  very  fine  run,  which  reminds  me  forcibly  of  the  bard's  precept : 

"Whate'er  you  say,  or  write,  or  do, 
Let  probability  be  kept  in  view." 

(I  quote  from  memory,  and  perhaps  not  quite  correctly.)  He  is 
talking  of  last  Thursday  week  in  Meath,  I  rather  think,  when  his 
Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught  was  in  the  field,  and 
proceeds  to  say,  "  Slater's  Gorse  was  then  the  order,  and  from  this 
a  downright  ' rattler'  instantly  took  his  departure,  going  at  a 
terrific  pace  to  Corbalton,  and  nearly  as  straight  as  a  rule  to 
Trim,  when  he  got  to  ground  after  two  and  a  half  hours  without 
a  single  check."  This  is,  indeed,  a  paper  chase,  evolved,  like  the 
camel,  from  inner  consciousness.  I  doubt  much  if  the  annals  of 
fox-hunting  furnish  a  record  of  any  run  ever  occupying  two  hours 
and  a  half  without  a  single  check — at  least  not  in  this  country, 
since  hounds  have  been  bred  for  dash  and  drive.  Your  con- 
temporary is  generally  accurate  in  his  information,  but  in  this  case 
our  faith  is  severely  strained. 

I  read  also,  in  a  "  daily,"  a  description  of  the  gyrations  of 
a  hare  told  with  much  minuteness  of  topography,  and  I  doubt  not 
with  great  fidelity ;  but  when  the  narrator  proceeds  to  informs  us, 


202  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

his  readers,  that  the  hare  had  pointed  "  his  mask "  to  So-and-so, 
the  impression  involuntarily  steals  on  me  that  I  am  reading  the 
troubled  annals  of  a  companion  of  Puss  in  Boots,  or  one  of  that 
curious  and  historic  family  ! 

On  Monday — a  fine  clear  day — the  Ward  Union  hounds  and 
men  still  remained  quiescent,  waiting  for  the  subsidence  of  the 
floods  and  the  good  effects  of  nature's  drying  processes  on  their 
well-soaked    soil.      The   Meath   hounds   met  at   Donaghpatrick 
Bridge,  which  is  not  a  popular  fixture,  and  in  the  estimVtion  of 
those  whom  I  consulted  (not  having  been  there  myself)  about  the 
worst  rendezvous  in  the  Meath  roster.     As  it  is  not  prudent  either 
in  war  or  its  image  to  venture  into  distant  lands  without  an  assured 
retreat,  and  the  single  return  train  on  the  Meath  and  Navan  line 
is  dispatched  on  the  Dublin  route  too  early  for  safety  or  pleasure 
— I  mean  the  safety  of  catching  it — I  did  not  visit  this  meeting- 
place  ;  which,  if  it  did  nothing  else,  redeemed  its  character,  and 
illustrated  for  the  thousandth  time  the  bonheur  de  rimfrevus — the 
best    part  of   fox-hunting — most    gloriously.      The  gallop  from 
Gibstown  to  Dunmoe  over  a  fair  line  and  at  great  pace  is  de- 
scribed to  me  by  one  of  the  actors  in  the  play  as  most  brilliant ; 
and  my  informant  is  not  a  biassed  son  of  the  soil,  and  has  had 
a  wide  experience  of  various  packs.     Five  got  off  in  this  gallop,  ' 
and  were  about  the  only  section  of  the  field  who  saw  this  thirty- 
four  minutes  really  satisfactorily.     I  hope  none  of  the  quintette 
will  be  offended  by  a   publication   of  their  names,  which  were 
Lieut. -Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  Lord  Algernon  Lennox,  Mr.  Trotter, 
Mr.  Walker,  and  Goodall,  the  huntsman.     It  is  a  good  criterion 
of  the  quality   of  a  run  when    you   find  the  enthusiasm   is  un- 
evaporated  on   the  following  day,  and   those   who  were  "out  of 
it "  can  speak  in  the  highest  commendation  still.     Such  was  the 
case  on  Tuesday,  one  of  the  most  glorious  days  which  the  young 
year  has  vouchsafed  us  hitherto.     It  commenced  with  haze  and 
fog,  and  seemed  inclined  to  relapse  into  that  condition  by  three 
o'clock ;  but  from  ten  to  three  nothing  could  be  imagined  finer 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  203 

than  the  atmospheric  surroundings — a  sun  so  hot  that  a  covert 
coat  was  a  positive  encumbrance ;  even  the  ordinary  heavy  pink 
would  have  been  willingly  exchanged  for  something  summery  and 
light  by  most  pursuers  after  a  mile  or  two.  The  air  was  luminously 
clear;  and  of  wind  there  was  absolutely  none.  Hardly  the  day 
you  would  prophesy  a  burning,  driving  scent,  with  the  grass  at 
noon  still  laden  with  dewdrops.  Those  who  struggled  for  four  or 
five  miles  over  those  wide  pastures  between  Corbalton  and  Lagore 
will  have  a  good  idea  of  how  a  pack  can  drive  a  fox  when  they 
have  it  all  their  own  way — no  stopping ;  no  interference  from  the 
riding  crowds,  whom  they  easily  distance.  But  I  am  anticipating 
the  sequence  of  events. 

The  Meath  hounds  met  at  Dunshaughlin  village  on  Tuesday, 
the  gth  instant.  There  is  very  little  to  say  about  this  hunting 
centre.  An  ugly,  ragged,  colourless  town,  set  in  a  sea  of  the  most 
vivid  and  verdant  grass  lands — flat  for  the  most  part.  I  think  it 
about  the  best  meet  on  the  Meath  card,  taking  everything  into 
consideration ;  its  accessibility  by  road  and  rail  from  Dublin 
(Batterstown  and  Drumree  stations  are  very  near),  as  well  as  from 
Navan,  the  country  to  which  it  is  a  portal,  and  the  holding  nature 
of  the  quiet  gorse  close  by — the  Poor-house  Gorse,  which  it  is 
part  of  the  programme  to  visit  always  first.  The  wetness  of  the 
surrounding  fields,  however,  made  Mr.  Waller  anxious  to  bring  us, 
if  possible,  into  sounder  and  higher  ground  to-day,  so  the  rule  was 
broken  to-day  pour  cause.  The  meet  was  a  fairly  large  one, 
swelled  by  a  large  influx  from  Dublin  Garrison  and  the  Ward 
Union  desoeuvres  sportsmen.  In  this  division  were  Lord  Clan- 
morris,  A.D.C.,  and  Captain  Crosbie,  A.D.C.,  a  good  many  of  the 
3rd  Dragoon  Guards,  Messrs.  Wardrop,  Hartigan,  Yatman,  Barber, 
Lee,  Captain  Bloomfield,  and  some  Inniskillings ;  Messrs.  Turbitt, 
Coppinger,  Hone,  Greenhill,  and  other  Ward  men,  with  Jem  Brind- 
ley,  the  whip,  while  among  the  visitors  were  Captain  and  the 
Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  the  Hon.  Mr.  Harbord,  Lord  Algernon  Lennox. 
Meath  was  at  the  trysting-place  in  great  numbers  and  force ; 


204  HIBERNIA   VENAT1CA. 

but  we  are  now  trotting  on  to  Reisk  Gorse,  not  a  few  having 
lingered  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  Poor-house,  unwilling  to 
believe  that  the  time-honoured  usage  could  be  violated.  The  find 
in  Reisk  Gorse  was  very  quick,  and  the  way  hounds  raced  over 
the  wide  fields  which  separate  this  covert  from  Kilbrue,  told  us  at 
once  that  scent  was  all  ablaze.  The  fox  got  to  ground  in  a 
burrow  near  the  old  lane-way  at  Kilbrue,  so  this  stage  of  the 
proceedings  was  of  quick  accomplishment ;  a  mile  or  two  brings 
us  back  again  to  Corbalton  lands,  which  the  Reisk  Gorse  abuts. 
The  plantations  here  yielded  no  music  till  the  narrow  road  was 
crossed,  and  from  a  clump  of  laurels  out  jumped  a  good  fox,  who 
did  not  hang  a  moment,  but  went  away  straight  as  if  for  Killeen 
or  Dunsany  Woods.  These  he  did  not  reach,  for,  bending  to  the 
left,  he  led  us  for  about  a  couple  of  miles  or  rather  less  over  grass 
land  of  wide  extent,  till  he  reached  Gerrardstown  Gorse.  I  do 
not  think  he  entered  it,  but  merely  brushed  by  it,  and  thence  his 
course  lay  straight  onwards  by  Dunshaughlin  church,  left  a  field  or 
two  to  the  right,  across  the  Navan  road,  through  Mr.  Morris's 
farm  (which  those  in  search  of  a  handy  hunter  or  two  might  visit 
with  profit),  then  by  those  low  grass  fields  which  border  Lagore 
till  we  reached  the  boundary  fence.  It  looks  nothing — it  is 
nothing,  really — a  fine  wide  sloping  bank,  with  a  watery  ditch  in 
front ;  but  up  to  this  the  pace  has  been  very  severe,  the  grass  land 
very  holding  though  sound ;  the  day  tells  on  hounds  as  well  as 
horses,  and  this  boundary  fence  makes  horses  check  if  hounds  are 
still  running.  I  see  the  best  cob  in  the  county  in  the  ditch,  with 
his  hard  rider  standing  over  him — every  practicable  place  has 
a  horse  jammed  or  refusing.  Fifty  yards  further  on  I  see  the 
hardest  man  in  Ireland  (or  well-nigh  it)  trying  in  vain  to  extricate 
one  of  his  good  stud  from  a  boggy  drain  whence  ropes  alone  can 
haul  him.  A  couple  of  hundred  yards  further  you  will  see  half 
a  score  or  more  wandering,  like  ghosts  along  the  Styx,  by  the  edge 
of  a  black  sort  of  chasm  margined  by  a  wide,  high  bank,  which 
horses  might  have  tried  thirty  minutes  ago,  but  are  too  wise  to 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  205 

attempt  now.  Needless  to  do  so ;  there  is  a  hunting  gate  within 
a  short  distance.  The  hounds  have  taken  their  fox  by  the  edge  of 
the  Poor-house  Gorse,  over  some  rather  swampy  lands,  inter- 
sected by  most  black-hued,  repell ing-looking  drains.  We  are  now 
on  Ballymore  lands  :  half  a  mile  further  brings  us  to  the  verge  of 
Ratoath,  and  here  we  lose  our  fox  by  the  edge  of  a  brook  which 
he  probably  used  for  his  own  baffling  purposes,  in  a  small  tributary 
to  which  Goodall  narrowly  escaped  total  immersion.  There  was 
a  rumour  that  Kilrue  Gorse  would  wind  up  the  day,  but  the 
kennels  were  a  long  way  off.  Most  horses  were  beaten,  and  I 
think  there  was  a  general  feeling  that  enough  had  been  done 
to-day.  The  gallop  I  have  just  outlined  for  your  readers  was 
really  a  splendid  one  for  those  who  rode  it  through  and  through ; 
for  it  was  somewhat  of  a  semicircle,  and  a  road  formed  an  arc, 
which  would  have  shortened  the  distance  greatly,  not  to  speak  of 
the  heavy  going.  The  line  lay  over  very  large  pastures  of  old 
grass,  fairly  fenced;  and  for  my  own  part  I  can  only  recollect 
jumping  into  one  very  small  bit  of  plough  in  the  nine  or  ten  miles 
traversed.  The  surprises  of  fox-hunting  were  again  exemplified 
here.  After  the  first  scurry  from  the  Reisk  most  men  concluded 
that  we  were  in  for  a  parky,  pic-nicing  sort  of  day,  interspersed 
with  some  cub-hunting.  The  fine  scent  prevented  that  catastrophe, 
as  hounds  kept  working  along  with  a  will ;  and  as  for  my  ex- 
perience, I  can  aver  that,  starting  as  I  did  on  an  animal  I  had 
hacked  very  fast  to  covert,  I  never  saw  the  smallest  chance  of 
changing  to  a  hunter  till  we  got  to  Lagore,  when  the  glory  was 
virtually  over,  and  of  course  the  horse  was  not  forthcoming  then. 

The  Louth  hounds,  who  had  an  interregnum  of  a  week,  began 
hunting  again  on  Tuesday,  the  2nd,  at  Castle  Bellingham,  finding 
lots  of  foxes  at  Bragganstown,  and  running  three  to  ground. 
A  brace  turned  up  next  at  Drumcashel,  and  the  hounds  got  away 
on  very  good  terms  with  one.  He  sank  the  hill  and  swam  the 
Dee,  which  was  in  flood,  and  only  to  be  crossed  by  a  bridge 
a  mile  distant ;  the  pack,  meanwhile,  went  over  Richardstown  and 


206  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Mullacurry  and  got  to  Ashville,  where  they  were  found  at  fault, 
owing  to  a  flock  of  sheep  and  a  herd  of  cattle  having  foiled  the 
land.  A  six-mile  point  had  been  done  under  the  hour.  The  line 
now  led  on  to  Collon,  but  coldly. 

On  the  5th  they  were  at  Balbriggan  station,  and  had  a  ring  by 
the  Naul  from  Knockbrack — twenty-two  minutes,  and  a  good  line. 
A  second  fox  was  found  in  Harbourstown,  who  made  two  rings, 
the  second  a  wide  one  ;  when  forced  out  again  he  crossed  Snow- 
town  Hill,  and,  leaving  the  Naul  to  the  left,  entered  Westown. 
Here  Mr.  Filgate  stopped  them,  with  a  beaten  fox  in  front  of 
them,  as  a  train  had  to  be  caught.  They  had  hunted  continuously 
for  one  hour  and  fifteen  minutes,  and  deserved  their  prey. 

The  almost  imperceptibly  lengthening  days,  even  if  we  dis- 
regarded dates,  warn  us  that  the  pastime  of  princes  must  ere  many 
weeks  give  way  to  the  popular  pastime  of  steeplechasing.  Already 
busy  caterers  and  entrepreneurs  are  framing  programmes  and 
bidding  high  for  favour  with  trainers  and  the  public.  Punchestown 
is  a  sort  of  Areopagus  among  the  minor  assemblies  it  regulates ; 
it  controls,  it  gives  a  tone  and  colouring  to  the  others  so  far  as  it 
is  possible ;  and  Punchestown  this  year  presents  a  revised  and 
altered  programme  to  a  certain  extent.  Among  the  on  dits  about 
its  attractions  is  a  projected  sweepstakes  for  real  bond  fide  hunt 
horses  that  have  been  owned  and  worked  since  January  ist,  1877. 
The  idea  is  novel — decidedly  attractive  ;  but  the  winner  would  in 
all  probability  turn  up  in  some  highly  bred  weed  with  jumping  and 
galloping  power,  but  such  as  most  masters  of  hounds  would  rather 
see  in  any  other  stable  than  their  own.  A  first-class  hunt-horse 
would  rarely  prove  the  winner  of  a  chase  unless  in  an  extra  large 
or  intricate  country,  and  after  winning  he  would  probably  take  six 
or  eight  months  to  get  back  into  true  huntsman's  form  in  Ireland. 

Second  to  Punchestown,  and  of  totally  different  character  from 
the  majority  of  Irish  race  meetings  (and  by  this  difference  I  do 
not  insinuate  dispraise),  conies  the  Fairy  House  meeting,  with  its 
genuine  intelligible  programme  and  heavy  weight  of  metal.  No 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  207 

country  that  I  know  of  owes  more  to  the  occupiers  of  the  soil 
than  the  Ward  Union  territory ;  no  country  is  more  empresse  to 
acknowledge  the  obligation,  and  where  possible  to  repay  it — ecce 
signum  f  A  race  of  ^120  is  annually  given  by  this  hunt  for  the 
farmers  of  the  district,  and,  in  addition,  they  are  eligible  to  com- 
pete for  two  other  races,  value  about  £200.  Just  now  a  meeting 
of  farmers  has  been  invited  to  attend  to  arrange  the  conditions  of 
their  own  competition  at  the  approaching  Fairy  House  gathering, 
and  a  popular  and  filling  article  may  be  consequently  anticipated. 

On  Wednesday,  the  loth  instant,  the  loyal,  the  brave,  but  above 
all  the  curious,  rendezvoused  at  every  coign  of  vantage  and  bay 
window  that  could  command  a  good  view  of  his  Excellency  the 
Lord-Lieutenanf  s  processional  entrance  into  the  metropolis  of  his 
new  viceroyalty.  The  pomp,  the  pride,  and  circumstance  of  war 
require  flashing  suns  and  bright  skies  to  illustrate  their  best  parade 
features  aright ;  lurid  skies,  choked  with  vapour  or  fog,  throw  their 
gloom  over  the  brightest  conceptions  and  the  most  effective 
details.  So  the  entrance  was  not  magnificent,  though  the  arrange- 
ments were  well  made  and  dovetailed  admirably.  The  sword 
which,  in  the  archaic  words  of  the  Liturgy,  her  Majesty  the  Queen 
had  committed  into  her  servant's  hands,  was  not  en  evidence.  His 
Grace  the  Duke  of  Marlborough  comes  to  us  in  the  era  of  flood, 
storm,  and  deluge  !  Is  he  destined  to  be  "  the  dove  of  peace  and 
promise  to  our  ark,"  the  sword  to  be  exchanged  at  last  for  the 
olive  branch? 

The  day  was  further  noteworthy  in  that  the  Ward  Union  men 
resumed  hunting  on  that  date,  and  had  three  or  four  miles  at 
capital  pace  from  Ballyhack,  by  Harborstown,  Ballymacoll,  and 
Priestown,  before  the  deer  took  to  the  road  near  Hollywood  Rath. 
The  rivers  in  this  county  are  anything  but  down  to  their  natural 
level,  the  whole  Tolka  Valley  being  partially  submerged.  Mr. 
George  Brook's  harriers  had  a  capital  afternoon  round  Laragh 
Brien,  finding  game  almost  too  plentiful ;  while  Meath  was  sipping 
what  I  may,  without  any  sinister  punning  meaning,  call  "the 


208  HIBERNIA   YEN  ATI  C A, 

cream  of  the  valley "  about  Dunshaughlin,  On  Tuesday  the 
Kildare  hounds  had  a  long  and  eventful  day  in  the  neighbourhood 
of  Blessington,  which  was  their  meeting-place.  Finding,  as  usual, 
in  the  Downshire  Park,  the  hounds  raced  their  fox  at  top  speed 
across  Glen  Ding,  the  Naas  road,  and  Slie  Rhue,  till  he  came  to 
the  well-known  ravine  overlooking  Elverstown ;  up  to  this  point, 
I  hear,  the  pace  was  so  good  that  the  tail  hounds  never  decreased 
their  distance  from  the  leaders,  though  straining  after  them. 
Here,  if  report  be  true,  the  hounds  were  hurried  a  bit,  and  a  pause 
of  some  very  precious  moments  was  the  consequence.  From  this 
point  pursuit  became  "potter;"  but  the  pack  worked  on  admir- 
ably, following  their  fox,  first  towards  Eadestown,  then  right  over 
Athgarrett  Hill,  thence  by  the  edge  of  the  old  Punch  Bowl  Covert, 
towards  Three  Castles,  where  he  tried  some  earths ;  then  back  by 
Mr.  Dunne's  lands,  in  a  winding  line  towards  Gouchers  ;  then  one 
hears  of  a  sheep-dog  intervening,  and  the  fox  is  finally  lost  by 
Castle  Inch,  near  Coolmine.  An  extremely  long  hunting  run, 
most  interesting  to  the  hound  men,  not  exciting  enough  for  the 
hard  riders;  but  they  too  had  their  turn  presently,  for  a  second  fox, 
found  in  one  of  the  Tinode  Ravines,  ran  the  glen  right  through  to 
the  Gate  Lodge,  crossed  the  Blessington  road,  and,  picking  a 
capital  path  for  himself  and  his  followers  through  the  heavy  pas- 
tures on  the  far  side,  held  on  to  within  a  field  of  Three  Castles 
Covert.  Then  he  turned  back  by  Mr.  Boothman's  house,  ran 
across  the  dividing  hill  to  Punchestown  (not  the  race  track),  swept 
over  the  large  fields  under  Kieel,  and  won  his  way  back  ultimately 
to  Tinode,  when  the  hounds  were  stopped  at  4.45,  after  a  very  fast 
fifty-five  minutes,  of  which  only  half-a-dozen  saw  the  last  stage. 
A  distribution  of  the  falls  among  the  original  morning  field  would 
give  a  fair  average,  as  the  hard  men  got  not  a  few  repetitions,  and 
not  many  who  rode  at  all  escaped.  Will  any  hunting  M.P.  in 
Ireland  be  bold  enough  to  propose  that  a  brace  of  colley  dogs 
shall  be  restricted  (save  under  larger  licence)  to  sheep  owners  and 
their  herds.  They  are  deadly  to  game,  and  they  constantly  mar 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  209 

a  stag  or  fox-hunt  at  a  critical  time.  I  see  by  a  recent  decision 
that  to  keep  a  greyhound  lawfully  you  must  own  ^1000.  Can  we 
believe  that  the  Sunday  poachers  and  other  greyhound  and  lurcher 
owners  of  that  calibre  are  good  for  a  "  thou  "  each  ? 

Black  sheep  will  always  infest  a  large  fold,  but  it  is  pleasant 
to  see  brilliant  instances  of  their  repudiation  by  the  white-woolled 
flock.  Lord  Huntingdon  recently  lost  some  hounds  by  poison. 
His  country  at  once  subscribed  the  most  tempting  sums  to  lead 
to  conviction,  and  have  thus  one  and  all  assoiled  themselves  of 
the  shame. 

"  The  west  wind  sighs,"  says  the  bard.  I  should  like  to 
have  put  the  said  bard  on  a  hunter,  with  orders  not  to  jog 
more  than  six  or  seven  miles,  an  hour,  and  to  ride  westwards 
on  Friday  morning,  from,  let  us  say,  Dunboyne  station  to 
Larracor,  some  fourteen  or  fifteen  miles,  and  then  ask  him 
what  he  thinks  of  the  appositeness  of  his  verse.  To  me  the 
sighs  seemed  to  come  from  an  iceberg,  which,  peradventure,  the 
Arctic  expedition  had  detached  from  the  frozen  continent,  to 
wander  till  dissolution  in  the  warm  Gulf  Stream  !  The  night  had 
been  rainy,  and  there  were  signs  and  tokens  of  more  water  all 
round  and  in  front  of  me  on  the  road ;  but  the  day  itself  was 
bright  and  clear,  the  sky  was  high,  and  the  sun  radiant.  By 
the  time  we  reached  Dangan  Castle  the  road  began  to  fill  with 
men,  horses,  and  carriages,  and  there  were  signs  and  tokens 
of  a  very  large  gathering  at  Larracor ;  for,  teste  the  great  dean 
himself  (Swift),  fox-hunting  was  more  popular  in  Pagan  Meath 
than  were  his  homilies  a  few  generations  ago ;  but  what  is  this  ? 
The  tide  which  had  set  for  Larracor  has  turned  now  for  Summerhill. 
In  a  moment  or  two  the  terribly  sad  and  stunning  cause  is  learnt 
by  all— "Sam  Reynell"  died  suddenly  yesterday!  The  first 
whip,  J.  Bishop— an  ellve  of  his,  and  a  credit  to  him — has  been 
sent  by  Mr.  Waller  to  say  that  there  can  be  no  hunting  to-day ; 
and,  indeed,  I  fear  the  Meath  hunting  annals  will  feel  a  break 
now  for  some  davs. 


210  HIBERNIA   YEN  A  TIC  A. 

It  seems  but  a  day  or  two  ago  that  Mr.  Reynell  was  among 
us  at  Rahinstown  (how  well  I  recollect  his  kindness  on  that 
occasion  in  asking  me  to  his  house  for  two  meets  not  easily 
accessible  to  me !)  full  of  health  and  spirits  !  His  biography 
in  a  recent  "  Baily  "  tells  something  of  what  he  did  for  fox-hunting 
in  the  two  Meaths  ;  nobody  can  tell  "how  much  he  did.  Almost 
every  spare  energy  and  thought  of  an  active  mind  was  for 
years  bent  on  the  work  he  had  undertaken;  and  he  did  it 
thoroughly.  It  may  be  said  he  was  a  slave  to  his  idea — 
most  successful  men  are.  It  may  be  cavilled  that  it  carried 
him  occasionally  beyond  the  modern  suaviter  in  modo,  when 
fox  or  hound  was  concerned.  He  WAS  an  enthusiast  certainly, 
and  Talleyrand's  surf  out  pas  trop  de  ztle  was  entirely  lost  on  him. 
In  him  we  may  well  paraphrase  the  lines : 

"  My  heart  leaps  up  whene'er  I  hear 
The  fox-hounds'  tuneful  cry  ; 
So  was  it  when  I  was  a  boy, 
So  let  it  be  when  I  am  old, 
Or  let  me  die." 

I  am  well  assured  his  love  never  abated. 

It  was  my  fortune  on  returning  from  my  sad  and  ineffectual 
ride  to  meet  Mr.  George  Brook's  harriers  at  work  with  a  hare 
between  Hamwood  and  Ballymacoll.  They  then  went  to  Offalis, 
found  an  extremely  straight  runner,  and  had  a  very  sharp  gallop 
at  top  speed  towards  Ballymaglasson,  and  then  in  the  direction  of 
"the  Hatchet,"  when  the  venerable  night  stopped  proceedings. 
The  hare  selected  a  perfect  bit  of  vale,  intersected  by  widish 
singles  for  the  most  part,  and  ran  more  direct  as  if  for  a  point 
than  any  hare  I  have  seen  for  some  time. 

Dangan  Bridge  is  one  of  Lord  Waterford's  most  successful 
meeting-places.  On  the  5th,  his  hounds  were  there,  and  finding 
their  first  fox  at  Knockbrack,  ran  him  very  fast  to  Liskertin, 
apparently  for  Brownstown  Wood.  A  slight  check  here  occurs, 
but  Duke  soon  sets  the  pack  going  under  Tallagher  village,  in 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  211 

the  direction  of  Woodstock.  Another  check  here,  and  wrong 
information  and  then  cold  hunting,  but  not  till  a  six-mile  point 
had  been  done  in  thirty-six  minutes  over  a  fine,  wild,  sporting 
country.  The  master  saw  it  all  well.  Dirty  coats  were  not 
uncommon  after  it.  On  Monday,  the  8th,  this  pack  met  at 
Churchtown,  and  after  some  woodland  hunting,  drew  Rathgor- 
mack  Gorse,  a  good  sure  holder.  Its  fox  broke  for  Ballyneale, 
but  was  headed  and  turned  leftwards  to  the  verge  of  Coolnamuck 
Wood,  when  he  was  met  by  a  rustic,  and  a  check  was  the  result 
(the  three  miles  up  to  this  had  been  got  over  in  fifteen  minutes). 
Duke  then  cast  "  the  ladies "  to  the  right,  when  they  hit  it 
off,  and,  crossing  the  Dungarvan  road,  sent  their  fox  into  Carrick 
Wood,  three  miles  further  on,  hustling  him  through  its  length, 
past  Mount  Bottom,  over  the  high  park  wall,  into  Curraghmore 
Chase  (it  bounds  some  6000  Irish  acres) ;  through  the  Tower 
Hill  plantations,  without  pause  or  dwell,  into  Carraboluclea  Wood, 
forced  him  over  the  wall  again  towards  Carrick  Wood,  and  rolled 
him  over  at  Tinhalla,  after  some  fifteen  miles  had  been  covered  in 
two  hours  fifteen  minutes. 

Thursday,  the  4th,  in  Kildare  was  not  remarkable,  save  to  a 
good  many  people  for  the  long  distances  they  had  to  travel  for 
a  modicum  of  sport.  Bolton  Hill  was  the  meeting-place,  Hobarts- 
town  the  first  successful  covert.  Here  two  foxes  were  on  foot, 
of  which  the  dog-pack  selected  their  own  quarry,  sending  him 
to  Kilkea,  where  he  hung  for  some  time.  Thence  he  was  hustled 
along  into  the  Carlow  country,  and  ultimately  sent  to  Kilkea 
Hill.  An  afternoon  fox,  found  at  Spratstown  Gorse,  ran  by  Matt 
Conran's  Covert,  towards  the  bottom  lands,  under  Ballintaggart. 
A  fresh  fox  and  a  holloa  spoilt,  I  hear,  a  promising  run. 

Here  is  a  sample  of  some  of  the  sport  which  Mr.  Burton 
Persse  has  been  showing  in  Galway.  I  can  only  give  it  in  epitome. 
On  the  4th,  his  pack  met  at  Blindwell,  where  they  did  not  find, 
but  a  good  fox  broke  at  once  from  Castle  Grove  for  Sylvane ;  then, 
changing  his  point,  ran  through  Ironpool  by  Milford  and  Cloghan, 


212  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

through  Milbourne  on  to  a  large  head  of  earths  near  Bellemount ; 
but  his  strength  failed  him,  and  after  one  hour  and  twenty  minutes 
he  was  pulled  down  by  the  "  Burnt  House."  This  was  on  the 
Tuam  side  of  Mr.  Persse's  country.  On  the  8th,  they  were 
on  the  Loughrea  side,  at  Eastwell,  Lord  Delvin's  residence,  and 
ran  two  foxes  to  ground,  the  pack  dividing.  Carra  Gorse  was 
equal  to  its  fame  to-day,  and  a  stout-hearted  fox  left  it,  apparently 
for  Ballydugan ;  but  a  bend  to  the  left  brings  him  close  to 
Hollyfield  Gorse,  thence  over  the  magnificent  pastures  of  Kil- 
cooly,  on  towards  Limehill  and  Streamstown,  by  Grange  Covert, 
just  eluding  his  death  grip  in  a  cave  by  Springvale.  The  line 
was  light  riding  grass  (comparatively),  the  pace  something  short 
of  flying  for  thirty-five  minutes.  On  the  evening  of  the  gth 
came  the  Hunt  Ball,  when  Liddell's  band  did  the  music  vice 
the  Moyode  choir,  and  "  the  field "  consisted  of  well-nigh  300. 
On  the  nth,  meeting  at  the  Knockbrack,  in  the  Athenry  country, 
they  found  in  a  small  gorse  near  Belleville  and  killed,  after  a 
twenty  minutes'  race  into  Athenry,  by  the  verge  of  the  town. 
From  Goodbody's  Covert  they  had  a  good  forty-five  minutes 
to  ground.  On  the  i2th,  they  met  at  the  Oranmore  station, 
and,  finding  in  Kiltrogar  (a  covert  planted  and  presented  to 
the  hunt  by  the  late  Lord  Clanmorris),  hunted  a  bold  fox  who 
held  his  point  in  the  teeth  of  the  wind  till  a  Board  of  Works 
canal  in  full  flood  was  reached.  The  fox  had  crossed  it ;  the 
hounds  dashed  in  after,  but  were  borne  down  ever  so  far  by 
the  current.  The  field  had  to  go  round  for  a  bridge,  but  by 
good  luck  and  hard  riding  came  up  with  the  pack  as  they  were 
leaving  Mr.  Meldon's  farm.  From  here  they  push  on  their  fox 
through  Castle  Lambert,  through  Mr.  Goodbody's  farm,  where 
he  tried  the  earths,  over  the  Tuam  rails  towards  Grayin  Abbey, 
within  two  fields  of  which  he  was  rolled  over.  From  find  to 
kill  measures  a  ten-mile  point,  the  distance  traversed  probably 
nearly  fifteen.  Every  hound  took  part  in  the  worry,  and  the  time 
of  the  chase  was  one  hour  thirty-five  minutes. 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  213 


XV. 

"Could  we  his  bygone  pages  read, 

His  feats  by  flood  and  field  ; 
The  varied  narrative,  indeed, 
An  Iliad  might  yield." 


Ballinglough  burst— Culmullen  chase— The  Black  Bull— The  Grange. 

WHAT  has  been  will  be,  and  the  procession  of  the  seasons  and 
their  phenomena  continue  their  miraculous  course,  which  we 
mortals  of  many  lustrums  get  so  used  to  that  we  talk  of  the 
course  of  nature  and  the  order  of  things !  January  is  only 
repeating  itself  this  year,  and  the  chances  are  that  many  hundreds 
of  years  ago  the  farmers  of  the  fertile  Milanese  were  wont  to 
complain  of  the  flooded  fields  and  the  incursions  of  the  Po  and 
his  tributaries  every  January,  just  as  we  have  been  inveighing 
against  this  two-faced  month  for  its  burden  of  waters  and  unre- 
mitting downpour  in  1877.  I  see  by  an  old  Roman  calendar  that 
Cancer  sets,  and  in  the  middle  of  this  month  Aquarius  and  his 
hose  come  into  play  : 

"Irrorat  Aquarius  annum." 

Of  course  the  earlier  commencement  of  the  season  of  ks  grandes 
eau-x  is  due  to  our  faster  times ;  for  it  would  indeed  be  hard  if 
an  age  of  progress  only  landed  us  a  few  days  ahead  of  those  old 
Pagans  ! 


2i4  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Marie  gravis  !  A  week  since,  we  were  listening  to  wars  and 
rumours  of  wars,  and  men's  hearts  were  failing  them  for  the  things 
coming  on  the  East.  Now  the  war  cloud  seems  passing  away, 
and  the  image  of  war  once  more  engrosses  soldiers  and  sailors, 
statesmen  and  squires,  in  its  vortex.  "  Leaves  "  seem  to  be  less 
dubious  now ;  men  appear  to  be  buying  horses,  with  somewhat 
more  confidence,  "to  finish  the  season"  withal — for,  disguise  it 
from  our  minds  and  memories  as  we  may,  half  the  season  has 
already  flitted  away  into  the  past.  The  better  half,  according  to 
popular  estimation,  "  remains  to  be  crowned  by  us  yet."  Longer 
days,  lighter  land,  sharper  foxes,  horses  more  experienced  and 
in  better  condition,  fences  fairer,  men  harder,  hunt  servants 
quicker,  the  whole  machinery  in  better  working  trim — these  are 
a  few  of  the  blessings  which  the  second  season  is  supposed  to 
bring  in  its  train.  Let  us,  now  that  it  is  a  retrospect,  be  just  to 
the  three  months'  hunting  which  we  have  enjoyed  in  Ireland.  If 
the  ground  was  adamantine  in  early  October,  it  has  been  soft 
enough  for  the  screws  and  navicularly  affected  ever  since.  Frost 
has  kept  away,  having  frightened  us  by  a  brief  interlude  which 
merely  impeded  the  hunting  current  for  a  few  hours.  Scent,  since 
the  land  got  well  soaked,  has  been  marvellously  good.  Sport  has 
been  keeping  pace  with  it,  and  the  supply  of  foxes  has  been  so 
good  that  I  hazard  a  statement  that  there  have  not  been  five 
blank  days — certainly  not  more — in  all  Ireland  up  to  the  present 
date  (mid-January).  Abnormal  rainstorms  certainly  did  spoil 
sport  for  a  day  or  two ;  but  even  in  the  worst  day  of  the  storm 
period  one  or  two  packs  made  capital  weather  of  it,  and  had  fine 
continuous  pursuits.  The  Ward  Union  hounds  suffered  most 
from  the  rain  and  its  effects.  But  their  basin  is  subject  to  these 
visitations  almost  annually;  nor  were  they  totally  exempt  last 
year,  their  country  being  under  the  flood  ban  for  a  week,  if  I 
mistake  not,  at  the  commencement  of  the  season. 

I  concluded  my  last  letter  with  the  melancholy  tidings  of 
"  Sam  "  Reynell's  death.  I  must  now  go  back  to  the  very  Thurs- 


HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A.  215 

day  of  his  seizure,  when  the  Meath  hounds  had  met  at  Drews- 
town,  and  had  just  found  their  second  fox  in  Ballinlough,  and 
taken  him  backwards  and  forwards  between  that  place  (Sir  Charles 
Nugent's)  and  Killua  Castle,  Sir  B.  Chapman's  park.  The  pack 
were  streaming  after  their  fox  out  of  Ballinlough  when  the  news 
of  Mr.  Reynell's  death  reached  Mr.  Waller.  He  at  once  ordered 
Goodall  to  stop  the  hounds  ;  but  they  were  racing,  and  Mrs. 
Partington's  celebrated  broom  was  of  about  as  much  avail  to 
keep  out  a  rising  tide.  Something  about  a  score,  I  hear,  got  off 
with  them,  and  all  went  merry  as  a  marriage-bell  till  a  boggy- 
banked  river  barred  progress.  Mr.  Dunville  gave  them  a  good 
lead,  but  somehow  Goodall  and  Captain  P.  Lowe  alone  profited  by 
it,  and  they  had  the  satisfaction  of  being  nearly  the  sole  pursuers 
over  a  fine  sound  line  of  country,  which  bore  very  little  trace  of 
the  recent  downpour,  and  which  hounds  have  not  been  known  to 
run  over  for  a  very  long  time.  The  fox  pointed  first  for  Cauces- 
town,  then  beat  to  the  right  and  made  Cloghbrack,  where  he  got 
to  ground — forty-three  minutes,  without  pause  or  dwell  to  enable 
Goodall  and  his  small  field  to  stop  the  flying  pack.  Strangely 
enough,  I  learnt  that  a  small  strip  of  wood,  through  the  length 
of  which  they  ran,  did  not  detain  them  a  second,  for  scent  lay 
there  as  well  as  on  the  turf.  I  alluded  to  the  circumstance  of 
my  having  met  Mr.  Brook's  harriers  on  my  return  from  Larracor, 
and  enjoying  a  very  fast  gallop  with  them.  A  Kildare  pursuer 
fell  in  for  even  a  better  thing  (longer,  at  least)  with  the  Newbridge 
harriers,  who  took  a  hare,  or  possibly  an  outlying  fox,  over  the 
line  of  the  old  Kildare  Red-coat  course,  by  Kilteel,  round  by 
Rathmore,  into  Furniss,  till,  I  hear,  the  hounds  got  rid  of  their 
field. 

Saturday,  the  i3th,  the  Kildare  hounds  repeated  their  own 
history  by  meeting  at  Hazelhatch  station,  on  the  Great  Southern 
and  Western  line  of  rails.  There  had  been  a  severe  frost  during 
the  night,  and  by  nine  o'clock  a  thick  enamel  covered  everything, 
and  made  even  the  low-lying  pastures  feel  very  hard  to  the  tread, 


216  HIBERN2A   VENA  TIC  A. 

and  the  spots  poached  by  cattle  almost  unridable.  Very  soon, 
however,  came  an  hour's  rain,  and  dispersed  and  dissolved  all 
the  congelations  of  the  night  The  meet  was  a  very  large  one, 
though  Meath  was  almost  wholly  unrepresented,  and  the  Ward 
Union  men  did  not  muster  a  dozen  strong  altogether ;  Mr.  Adair 
was  there  from  the  Queen's  County,  Lord  Oranmore  from  Galway 
(both  admirably  mounted  apparently) ;  General  Herbert,  as  senior 
officer,  commanded  a  miniature  army  recruited  from  the  Dublin 
Garrison,  the  Curragh,  and  Newbridge,  consisting  of  a  very  large 
squadron  of  Inniskillings,  some  half-a-dozen  or  more  of  the  Rifle 
Brigade,  a  few  of  the  yth  Dragoons,  a  guardsman  or  two,  and  men 
of  the  75*  and  4th  Foot.  Captain  J.  M'Calmont,  long  an 
absentee  from  the  plains  of  Kildare,  reappeared  there  to-day,  and, 
with  Colonel  Frank  Forster,  represented  the  new  Household. 
Winding  through  the  streets  of  Celbridge,  Mr.  Mansfield  led  his 
knights-pursuers  into  Castletown  Park,  where  a  fox  was  very  soon 
on  foot.  His  career  was  brief,  as  he  saved  himself — to  run,  we'll 
trust,  further  on  a  future  day — in  a  gaping  sewer.  Cullen's  Gorse 
had  been  so  frequently  appealed  to  of  late  that  this,  "  the  last 
appeal,"  proved  wholly  inefficacious,  and  the  good  stout  fox  who 
had  done  his  duty  by  Kildare  right  foxfully  knew  it  not  to-day. 
Taghadoe,  another  gorse  which  has  been  very  useful  this  year,  was 
tenantless;  so  I  may  repeat  my  paraphrase  of  the  Laureate's, 
"  Bad  luck  to  the  country  !  the  clock  had  struck  one ;  no  foxes 
forthcoming — no  hunting  begun ! "  For  of  the  Castletown  rat 
we  need  not  take  any  account  till  he  prove  more  worthy  of  a 
niche  in  fox  history.  Courtown  furnished  the  esurients  with  much 
much  refreshment,  solid  and  liquid,  some  jumping,  but  no  fox. 
Remains  Ballycaghan ;  but  at  this  stage  much  desertion  took 
place,  the  distances  beginning  to  tell  on  the  comers  from  afar,  and 
those  dependent  on  trains  and  time-tables.  A  quick  find  in 
Ballycaghan  Gorse,  very  little  covert  hustling,  and  away  the  good 
fox  speeds,  for  Cappagh  apparently — two  miles  over  grass — as 
hard  as  horses  can  gallop.  Three  or  four  of  the  wide  pastures  in 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  217 

this  direction,  however,  had  not  been  crossed  before  our  fox  began 
to  bend  to  the  left,  as  if  Hortlands  were  his  object ;  Newtown 
village  is  left  on  the  right  hand,  and  now,  by  the  edge  of  the  road 
leading  to  it,  a  check  occurs.  "  Volatile "  leads  her  sisterhood 
over  the  road  into  beautiful  green  fields ;  but  the  clue  has  been 
mainly  lost,  and,  though  we  got  a  very  enjoyable  canter  over  a 
mile  or  two  of  old  turf,  intersected  by  three  or  four  wide  fences, 
and  one  a  bank  and  deep  drop — which  caused  some  grief,  but 
immense  amusement  and  peals  of  laughter— nothing  came  of 
Freeman's  rapid  casts  in  the  Hortland  direction  ;  and  on  visiting 
Cappagh  Gorse,  as  the  westering  sun  was  lighting  up  the  whole 
horizon  with  brilliancy,  it  was  only  to  find  a  fox  one  moment,  and 
presently  to  hear  "  who-whoop  !  who-whoop  ! "  in  the  covert — why 
I  know  not.  Gone  to  ground  !  A  poor  day's  sport ;  but  those 
who  hold  that  larking  over  splendid  old  pasture  lands  and  fair 
fences  is  better  than  a  gallop  over  plough  and  plough  obstacles, 
had  enough  to  content  their  aspirations  to-day. 

I  alluded  in  my  last  letter  to  the  fine  gallop  which  the  Meath 
hounds  had  from  Gibstown  to  Dunmoe,  when  five  alone  filled  the 
ranks  of  persevering  pursuit.  The  line  led  through  Randlestown, 
over  Syllogue  Hill,  and  here  it  was  that  a  huge  boundary  fence 
weeded  out  the  field.  By  all  accounts  it  was  a  very  brilliant 
thirty-five  minutes,  interrupted  but  by  a  single  pause  of  very  short 
duration  in  Craig's  Covert  Gibstown  is  a  very  hard  place  to 
get  away  from,  and  often  involves  a  long  weary  round.  "  Sam  " 
Reynell's  death  has  dislocated  all  plans  and  arrangements  in 
royal  Meath — now  verily  and  truly  mcerens  Meath.  The  hunt 
ball,  which  was  to  have  taken  place  on  Wednesday,  is  postponed 
indefinitely.  Westmeath  put  off  her  meet  at  Gillardstown  on 
Friday ;  the  Allenstown  harriers  theirs  at  Drumcree.  There  will 
be  no  hunting,  save  stag-hunting,  on  this  side  of  the  country  (by 
which  I  mean  Dublin  and  Meath)  till  after  Mr.  Reynell's  funeral 
to-morrow  (Tuesday).  Every  one  is  going  there  to  pay  the  tribute 
of  a  sportsman  to  the  remains  of  a  very  great  one,  and  till  then 
pendent  opera  interrupta. 


2i8  HIBERNIA   YEN  A  TIC  A. 

In  Kildare  Monday's  meet  at  Eagle  Hill  has  been  put  off 
in  consequence  of  the  death  of  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Borrowes,  the  wife 
of  Major  Borrowes,  of  Gilltown,  one  of  Kildare's  most  holding 
coverts.  Major  Borrowes  was  for  some  seasons  the  master  of  the 
Cottesmore  hounds. 

En  revanche  for  these  postponements,  interruptions,  and  their 
sad  causes,  the  Ward  Union  hounds,  released  from  their  durance 
of  ten  days  or  a  fortnight,  have  had  two  glorious  pursuits  con- 
secutively. Of  the  first  (Saturday's)  I  can  only  repeat  what  I 
hear,  that  everything  combined  to  make  it  a  splendid  pursuit,  as 
there  is  an  interval  of  somewhere  about  fifteen  miles  between  the 
point  of  enlargement  and  the  point  of  capture  by  Beau  Pare  on 
the  Boyne.  Of  the  second  I  can  speak  ex  cathedrd,  though  the 
cathedra  was  that  of  a  very  distant  spectator  and  follower  over 
a  portion  of  the  line — but  I  anticipate  events.  Let  me  begin 
with  the  painful  lesson  in  punctuality  which,  much  and  sorely 
needed,  I  learnt  in  the  forenoon.  Having  great  faith  in  a  big 
stable  clock  and  a  fast  stepper,  I  drove  to  Maynooth  station  to 
catch  the  morning  train  from  Mullingar.  It  was  vanishing  as 
I  drove  up.  A  bad  beginning ;  but  there  is  ample  consolation — 
the  Ward  Union  hounds  are  at  Culmullen  cross  roads  at  1.15  p.m. 
You  can  easily  reach  that  place  in  time,  says  the  soothing  spirit 
to  the  irritated  inward  man.  Too  true  !  but,  as  a  matter  of  fact, 
I  did  not,  and  the  hounds  and  deer  and  their  followers  were  a 
mile  off,  when  I  should  have  been  in  the  ranks  of  pursuit,  or 
stragglers,  at  any  rate.  The  whereabouts  of  the  line  was  marked 
by  spectators  on  every  little  eminence,  so,  pushing  along,  we  got 
alongside  of  the  worst-beaten  division  presently;  but  a  mile  of 
good  firm  road  gave  the  leaders  such  a  second  start  that  to  catch 
them  or  the  pack  was  quite  beyond  my  power,  though,  to  verify 
the  line,  I  followed  the  tracks  over  a  very  pleasant  bit  of  country. 
The  morning  was  intensely  cold  and  rimy ;  ice  sheeted  over  the 
pools,  but  by  nine  o'clock  rain  began  to  fall  with  that  gushing 
persistency  which  no  longer  surprises  us,  and  till  three  o'clock 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  219 

continued  with  hardly  a  moment's  pause.  The  field  at  Culmullen 
cross-roads  was  not  large  by  any  means,  though  recruited  from 
Meath  by  Lord  Langford,  Captain  P.  Lowe,  Mr.  Chadwick,  Mr. 
Murphy,  and  a  few  more,  while  the  Dublin  Garrison  also  aided 
to  fill  the  ranks,  principally  with  men  from  the  3rd  Dragoon 
Guards.  Culmullen  itself  is  on  rather  high  ground,  while  stretch- 
ing away  below  to  the  eastward  is  a  fine  valley,  through  which  the 
Meath  line  runs  it  single  rail.  The  enlargement  took  place  near 
a  new  church  in  process  of  erection,  and  the  deer,  jumping  a 
somewhat  impracticable  wall,  put  her  mounted  pursuers  at  rather 
a  disadvantage  to  begin  with.  There  is  a  driving  wind  from  the 
south-west,  and  the  deer  goes  away  straight  for  Batterstown — not 
quite  in  the  teeth,  but  about  what  sailors  would  call  close-hauled. 
It  is  a  heavy,  swampy  line  of  pasture  for  about  two  Irish  miles 
between  Culmullen  and  Batterstown.  This  was  the  deer's  course, 
and,  as  scent  was  very  warm,  no  wonder  a  good  many  horses  had 
little  left  at  the  end  of  this  stage.  It  did  not,  however,  quite 
reach  to  Batterstown,  but,  turning  at  Piper  Hill,  led  on  towards 
"the  Hatchet;"  and  here  a  good  hard  road  helped  horses  for  a  bit 
after  the  soppy,  holding  grass  lands.  Soon  it  bends  to  the  left, 
and,  passing  through  Ballymaglasson,  steers  a  tract  between 
Baytown  and  Vesington,  crossing  the  by-road  leading  to  Rath- 
beggan  at  a  small  bridge ;  thence  it  goes  on  to  the  verge  of  Wood 
Park,  over  one  or  two  very  pleasant  little  brooks  (if  you  are  on 
a  water  jumper),  then  it  uses  a  lane  for  a  few  hundred  yards,  till, 
crossing  the  Dunboyne  road,  Norman's  Gorse  is  made,  and  in  a 
mile  or  so  more  donee  (on  the  high  road  to  the  metropolis)  is 
reached.  Thence  the  line  diverges  on  to  Cruice  Rath  (the  home 
of  a  very  popular  sportsman,  Mr.  Maxwell,  now,  alas  !  in  small 
health,  whose  liberality  has  made  his  harriers  les  bienvenus  in  any 
country  in  any  weather),  and  here  the  capture  was  made.  Take 
a  compass  and  measure  the  points  of  this  gallop  on  the  Ordnance 
Survey  map.  Few  packs  in  a  cycle  of  seasons  can  boast  a 
straighter,  longer,  or  better  line,  though  the  latter  part  was  rather 
spoilt  by  roads. 


220  HIBERNIA   VENAT1CA. 

A  circular  bids  me  attend  a  meeting  of  the  Kildare  Hunt 
Club  at  Naas  on  the  22nd.  The  subjects  to  be  considered  there 
are :  First,  the  future  mastership  ;  secondly,  the  separation  of  the 
management  of  the  country  from  the  mastership  of  the  hounds — 
"country"  standing  generally  for  fowl  damage,  covert  expenses, 
and  compensation  claims  of  various  characters.  As  to  the  master- 
ship, if  Kildare's  sons  decline  the  honourable  but  responsible  and 
onerous  office,  it  appears  to  me  that  the  panacea  for  the  wants  of 
a  sporting  age,  The  Field  and  its  contemporaries'  advertising 
columns,  must  be  resorted  to.  There  are  not  a  few  enterprising 
men  of  good  means,  position,  and  leisure  in  England  and  Scot- 
land who  would  gladly  welcome  such  an  opportunity.  Liberal 
subscriptions  and  a  grass  country;  pleasant  society  and  good 
houses ;  Dublin  within  an  hour,  London  within  less  than  a  dozen ; 
an  army  of  all  arms  cantoned  close  by,  to  protect  and  enliven ; 
racing  within  easy  reach,  and  "  lep  racing  all  round  your 
quarters,  wherever  you  may  make  them ;  good  farmers,  most  loyal 
to  fox-hunting,  and  land  that  rides  light  and  does  not  overtax 
hunters — such  are  a  few  of  the  good  things  which  Kildare  men 
perhaps  value  less  than  outsiders,  because  they  have  grown  up 
among  them,  and  familiarity  has  dulled  the  keenness  of  appetite. 
Add  to  all  this  that  there  never  was  a  time,  perhaps,  when  the 
undertaking  of  the  management  of  this  pack  involved  less  outlay 
or  personal  trouble.  New  kennels  (most  healthy  they  have 
proved)  have  been  built  centrally,  to  command  the  country  by 
road  and  rail.  The  chain  of  coverts  is  perfect  in  every  link,  and 
the  stock  of  foxes  is  very  good.  Of  the  hounds  it  were  superfluous 
to  say  much ;  I  do  not  think  even  a  very  fastidious  master  could 
find  much  to  cavil  at  in  looks  or  performance.  Such  as  they  are, 
they  are  ready  to  hand,  and  thus  one  main  source  of  anxiety  and 
expense  to  a  new  M.F.H.  is  saved.  I  believe  there  is  a  prejudice 
against  the  introduction  of  a  "  stranger  "  as  master  in  some  minds. 
There  are  many  obvious  reasons  in  favour  of  new  blood,  if  of  the 
right  strain  ;  not  many  cogent  ones,  to  my  fancy,  against  it.  Such 


HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A.  221 

a  trust  would  not  be  delegated  lightly  or  inconsiderately  by  a 
country  ;  and,  as  in  leases,  there  would  of  course  be  strict  clauses, 
covenants,  and  conditions.  The  power  of  the  purse  is  a  strong 
curb  to  any  M.F.H. ;  and  it  would  be  the  committee's  fault  if  any 
serious  or  lasting  injury  were  done  to  either  country  or  pack,  sup- 
posing the  almost  inconceivable  notion  that  the  "stranger"  were 
either  grossly  ignorant,  prejudiced,  or  malevolent.  A  colonel  from 
another  corps  will  be  just  as  likely  to  do  justice  to  a  cavalry 
regiment  as  a  regimental  promotion. 

On  Tuesday,  the  Meath  hounds  would  have  been  due  at 
Ratoath  but  for  the  death  of  the  great  master  spirit  departed,  to 
whose  obsequies  I  know  a  vast  number  of  the  aristoi  in  the  world 
of  hunting,  and  also  in  the  social  world,  are  hurrying  to-day  irre- 
spective of  business  or  pleasure — Quorn  meets,  Tailby  meets,  or 
Kildare  fixtures — all  anxious  to  pay  a  last  tribute  to  what  I  may 
call  a  past  master  of  his  craft,  who  for  more  than  a  generation 
wore  the  crown  of  royal  Meath,  a  king  of  its  royal  sport.  Ratoath 
is  the  portal  to  so  much  fine  country  on  all  sides,  that  for  the  sake 
of  my  readers  I  regret  that  my  surveys  did  not  embrace  some 
scenes  in  that  neighbourhood.  The  alternative  was  Johnstown 
Inn  in  Kildare,  sure  to  attract  a  large  assemblage,  which  in  point 
of  fact  was  the  starting-place  from  whence,  after  some  hours,  we 
got  a  capital  and  most  enjoyable  run — of  that  more  presently — 
but  which  I  could  not  compare  to  Ratoath  in  point  of  the  great 
hunting  unities,  that,  with  luck  and  good  handling,  lead  to  a  great 
epic  in  action.  As  I  drove  thither  betimes,  I  met  the  Earl  of 
Clonmell  posting  on  to  be  in  time  for  the  sad  funeral  procession, 
abandoning  a  fashionable  meet  close  to  his  home  to  fulfil  the  dic- 
tates of  friendship  and  kindliness  of  heart.  Well,  is  it  not  written 
that  sometimes  a  visit  to  a  house  of  mourning  is  better  than  to  a 
house  of  feasting?  I  forget  the  words,  but  the  idea  is  somewhat 
cast  in  that  mould.  A  gusty  morning,  and  very  dark.  The  rain- 
fall (our  almost  d.iily  portion)  was  only  kept  off  by  the  wind,  and 
so  soon  as  that  lulled  was  bound  to  descend  in  torrents.  The 


222  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

village  of  Johnstown  was  full,  very  full,  of  hunting  visitors — I 
might  almost  say  guests ;  for  are  we  not  bidden  by  Mr.  Mansfield 
to  a  grand  spectacle  and  great  games  ?  There  were  not  quite  so 
many  as  at  the  opening  festival  in  October — not  near  so  much 
carriage  pomp  or  bravery  of  apparel — and  yet  the  meet  was  very 
fashionably  attended.  Half  a  score  of  ladies,  if  not  a  whole 
score,  riding — nay,  I  am  not  sure  now,  if  there  were  not  even 
more  ;  a  good  many  driving ;  while  the  Marquis  and  Marchioness 
of  Drogheda  surveyed  the  peripheries  of  the  day  from  one  of 
Comerford's  famous  hack  cars,  sure  to  be  well  driven  and  well 
horsed.  There  were  very  few  Meath  men,  pour  cause ;  but  Mr. 
and  Mrs.  Adair  were  there  from  the  Queen's  County,  while  Dublin 
Garrison  and  Dublin  city  were  strongly  represented — the  former 
by  Captains  Ward  Bennett,  O'Neal,  Bloomfield,  Peareth,  and 
other  Inniskillings ;  by  Messrs.  Stewart,  Wardrop,  Hartigan,  and 
others  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards  ;  also  by  Captains  Bagot,  Sawle, 
Crosbie,  Hon.  T.  Scott,  etc. ;  Dublin  city  by  Messrs.  Robertson, 
D'Arcy,  Burke,  and  others.  The  Curragh  and  Newbridge  sent 
detachments  from  the  R.H.A.,  among  them  Messrs.  Costobadie, 
Knox,  and  MacDonald;  from  the  yth  Dragoons,  headed  by  Major 
Dent,  well  mounted  as  usual ;  from  the  4th  Foot,  and,  I  think, 
the  75th  of  the  Line,  etc.  The  half-crown  business  transacted, 
the  chariots  and  horsemen,  according  to  time-honoured  custom, 
entered  the  gates  of  Kerdiffstown,  had  a  pleasant  drive  through 
its  avenue  and  park,  and  the  usual  marshalling  took  place  in  the 
large  field  opposite  the  usually  good  holding  gorse  that  Mr.  Hen- 
drick  watches  over  so  vigilantly  and  well.  Great  expectations  and 
suspense  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour  !  Then  the  trumpet  blasts  make 
us  turn  our  horses'  heads  round.  We  are  soon  in  the  neighbour- 
ing park  of  Palmerstown,  but  no  foxes  roam  its  plantations  to- 
day !  Then  we  begin  to  ascend  a  mild  gradient  till  we  are  once 
more  enacting  the  part  of  vedettes,  while  the  hounds  explore  the 
greeneries  of  Arthurstown  below  us — formerly  the  pride  and  boast 
of  Kildare,  now  much  fallen  from  its  high  estate.  This  is  getting 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  223 

really  serious  when  luck  deserts  us  in  the  odd  number.  Remains 
Eadestown  the  never-failing  !  Nor  was  the  proud  nuncupation  a 
misnomer.  In  ten  minutes  or  less  the  two  narrow  gates  at  either 
corner  are  crowded — those  near  either  get  about  a  small  field's 
start  of  those  worse  posted — and  the  hounds  are  racing  !  A  few 
small  obstacles — a  dozen  fields  of  rather  poor  grass  land,  and 
none  the  heavier,  or  scarcely  the  heavier  or  more  holding,  from 
the  recent  rains — and  we  are  entering  the  well-known  Punches- 
town  arena ;  only  we  are  reversing  the  track,  and  running  left- 
handed  instead  of  right — up  the  hill  towards  the  stand,  instead  of 
down  past  it  In  a  minute  or  two  we  are  on  the  edge  of  the 
almost  equally  famous  Punchestown  Gorse,  and  those  who  have 
got  away  fairly  well  from  Eadestown  can  look  back  upon  the  tail 
men  cantering  and  galloping  up.  Here  is  a  gentleman  whose 
lines  are  cast  in  the  law  courts  of  Dublin.  A  flight  of  high  and 
stiff  hurdles  is  in  front  of  his  path ;  he  charges  them  right 
gallantly ;  but  whether  his  horse  swerved  or  jumped  extra  big,  the 
rider  is  supine  on  the  right  side,  and,  as  somebody  quaintly 
observed,  his  head  executed  a  deed  poll  on  the  ground,  his  corpus 
an  indenture.  The  said  gentleman  I  saw  afterwards  charging  the 
biggest  obstacles  to  be  met  with,  as  if  a  fall  were  merely  a  stimulus 
to  his  enterprise.  "Hold  up!"  says  a  gallant  Saxon,  evidently 
a  soldier,  to  his  hunter,  as  he  gets  on  to  the  top  of  a  bank.  The 
horse  evidently  does  not  understand  the  injunction  ;  for  he  plunges 
incontinent  into  the  ditch  (luckily,  a  dry  one),  and  it  taxes  his 
rider's  hand,  seat,  and  nerve  severely  to  save  a  fall.  A  loose  horse 
or  two  may  be  seen  about,  I  believe ;  but  scent  is  very  good,  and 
the  half-hour's  respite,  or  at  least  a  quarter's,  which  most  foxes  on 
most  days  can,  with,  perhaps,  one  or  two  followers,  count  on  in 
this  strong  thick  gorse,  is  to-day  cut  down  to  seven  or  eight 
minutes.  Away  we  go,  past  the  grand  stand,  over  the  old 
"  Downshire  course  wall "  (a  three-foot  gap,  be  it  understood,  pre- 
sents itself  in  the  middle),  across  the  Rathmore  road,  as  if  for 
Cradoxtown  or  Tipper,  then  a  swing  to  the  left  leads  us  over 


224  HIBERN1A   YEN  ATI  C A. 

another  road  from  Naas  to  Punchestown,  while  a  few  light-riding 
grass  fields  and  scrambling  banks  bring  us  into  Killashee,  Mr. 
Richard  Moore's  park,  over  which  the  hounds  run  fast ;  then  we 
cross  the  Naas  and  Dunlavin  road,  enter  Mr.  Kearney's  extensive 
fields  at  Rathasker — where  there  used  to  be  a  breeding  earth  by 
the  old  castle,  I  believe — run  over  some  rather  swampy  fields, 
where  a  boundary  double  makes  a  call  on  a  tired  horse's  powers  ; 
and  presently,  having  got  over  a  by-road,  we  are  in  Mr.  Fay's 
farm,  and  we  hear  who-whoop  !  who-whoop  !  at  a  bank  and  ditch 
where  I  have  seen  a  fox  take  sanctuary  before  to-day.  At  this 
point,  being  well-nigh  twenty  miles  from  my  stable,  I  turned 
homewards,  thinking  all  was  over,  when,  looking  back,  I  saw  men 
riding  again  !  so  the  fox  must  have  only  tried  this  sewer  or  drain. 
Slowly,  but  without  much  hesitation,  the  hounds  now  hunt  on  to 
Newlands,  Mr.  FitzPatrick's  residence,  and  by  his  farm-yard  there 
is  a  pause  of  a  few  minutes,  which  the  owner  begs  the  large  field 
to  utilize  in  tasting  his  hospitality ;  but  the  break  is  only  momen- 
tary— away  the  hounds  hurry  on  towards  Herbertstown. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  continue  their  unchequered  career  of 
brilliant  sport.  The  meeting-place  on  Wednesday,  the  i7th,  was 
the  Black  Bull  (stat  nominis  umbra},  and  in  addition  to  the  faces 
one  generally  sees  at  these  assemblies  there  was  a  small  knot  of 
hard-riding  Meath  men,  whose  occupation,  so  far  as  fox-hunting  is 
concerned,  is  gone  till  Friday  next.  Among  them  were  Lord 
Langford,  Mr.  W.  Butler,  the  Messrs.  Murphy,  Mr.  Trotter,  Mr. 
Chapman,  Mr.  Metge,  Captain  Peter  Lowe,  Mr.  Hone,  Mr. 
M'Gerr ;  Kildare  supplied  a  few,  representatives,  Louth  one  or  two, 
Limerick  the  same.  There  was  a  coach-load  of  Inniskillings  and 
3rd  Dragoon  Guards,  one  or  two  of  the  Rifle  Brigade,  and  Dublin 
mustered  strong  to  a  very  favourite  and  accessible  fixture,  some 
ten  miles  of  Irish  measurement  from  the  General  Post-Office.  The 
deer  selected  for  this  pursuit  was  rather  a  celebrity,  as  this  year 
he  gave  about  the  longest  chase  of  the  season,  which  ended  at 
Garradice,  and  hopes  were  high  that  the  gallop  of  this  afternoon 


STEWART    DUCKETT. 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  225 

would  be  in  no  way  inferior.  In  length  it  was  very  inferior,  but 
the  pace  for  a  few  miles  was  very  good  and  continuous ;  but 
I  anticipate.  The  red  deer  was  unlucky  at  the  outset,  for,  en- 
larged not  far  from  the  meeting-place,  he  was  coursed  for  some 
fields  by  a  sheep-dog,  and  this  no  doubt  spoilt  the  first  stage  of 
our  gallop — for  in  the  first  mile  we  had  a  long  check ;  then 
crossing  the  Dunboyne  road,  we  got  jammed  and  entangled  in 
a  sort  of  network  or  prison  of  rails,  wire,  and  water,  which  took 
up  a  few  moments,  and  might  have  been  fatal  to  seeing  anything 
further  of  the  pursuit.  But  up  to  this  our  quarry  took  things  very 
leisurely,  going  down  by  Wood  Park  and  its  brook  ;  then  turning 
to  the  left,  recrossing  the  Dunboyne  road,  and  presently  holding 
a  course  over  the  Ratoath  road  by  Loughlinstown,  Mullinam,  and 
Ballyhack,  it  led  us  over  a  very  perfect  grass  line,  widely  fenced, 
but  where,  with  a  very  few  exceptions,  you  could  clap  on  steam  at 
every  obstacle,  and  never  think  of  the  safety-valve.  Inclining  to 
the  right,  the  track  takes  us  to  the  well-known  Kilrue  cross-roads, 
a  very  celebrated  meet  for  this  pack,  and  thence  by  Beltrasna  to 
a  point  in  the  Ashbourne  road,  soon  after  which  the  road  was 
substituted  for  the  pastures,  and  a  capture  was  effected  beyond 
Fleenstown.  The  cream  of  the  gallop  was,  I  should  think,  about 
five  miles  over  a  line  nearly  good  enough  for  any  modern  steeple- 
chase, very  superior  to  many  courses  patronized  a  generation  or 
two  gone  by.  There  were  falls  and  loose  horses,  but  no  bones 
broken  or  horses  injured,  and  the  half-hour  or  forty  minutes  occu- 
pied by  the  brightest  portion  of  the  chase  was  deliciously  warm, 
the  sun  shining  out  radiant  and  serene  after  some  very  heavy 
forenoon  showers.  A  very  hard  welter-weight  owed  an  involuntary 
cold  bath  to  some  concealed  wire,  which  turned  his  hunter  over 
into  a  brook.  The  invisible  wire  is  so  rare  in  this  country  that 
I  mention  the  circumstance.  A  pillar  of  the  Irish  turf  became 
for  the  nonce  a  pillar  of  Irish  mud,  while  his  place  in  the  alpha- 
bet of  pursuit,  generally  nigh  Alpha,  waxed  by  this  misadventure 
nigher  to  Omega.  We  make  a  vast  pother  about  our  rains  and 

Q 


226  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

floods  here ;  but  really  what  are  ours  in  comparison  to  your 
experiences  in  the  Thames  and  other  valleys  ?  Yesterday  the 
nephew  of  an  old  friend,  who  held  the  horn  once  in  England,  told 
me  that  his  uncle  was  recently  asked  to  go  to  a  ball,  and  when 
his  station  was  reached  and  the  brougham  was  expected,  lo,  a 
boat  and  a  ferryman  were  sent  to  bring  him  to  his  destination  ! 

Mr.  Hamilton  Stubber  is,  I  hear,  showing  very  fine  sport  in  the 
Queen's  County,  one  sample  of  which  I  sent  you  in  the  merest 
outline  last  week.  A  pursuer  who  graduated  with  Mr.  Tailby, 
told  me  that  on  Monday  last  he  had  a  wonderfully  pleasant  gallop 
with  this  pack,  which  showed  very  high  hunting  form.  I  am  not 
quite  certain  about  the  accuracy  of  my  memory,  but  I  give 
a  sketch  of  the  pursuit,  subject  to  any  amount  of  correction. 
Finding  at  Orchard  Gorse,  they  hunted  their  fox  to  a  sewer  near 
Luggnacurran  village.  Whether  the  fox  emerged  from  his  hiding- 
place  when  the  hounds  were  taken  away  is  not  ascertained,  but 
soon  the  hounds  dragged  on  a  line  into  Corbally  Covert,  and  from 
it  sent  a  fox  over  a  range  of  hills  flat  at  the  top  and  covered  with 
short  grass,  where  there  is  a  long-stretching  gallop  of  nearly  three 
miles,  broken  only  by  two  flying  walls,  or  walls  that  can  be  flown 
in  a  horse's  stride.  After  this  the  fox  got  into  a  thorn  and  hazel 
scrub  which  clothes  a  hill  known  as  The  Banker,  from  which  he  was 
pushed  into  a  new  plantation  of  Captain  Cosby's,  and  when  he 
broke  again  it  was  to  run  over  the  Old  Hill,  gallop  once  more 
its  walls,  and  get  to  ground  not  far  from  his  original  starting-place; 
from  this  he  was  bolted,  and  soon  after  rolled  over  by  the  pack, 
who  had  deserved  him  well. 

Thursday,  the  i8th,  was  marked  by  almost  heavier  rain  than 
we  have  been  blessed  with  hitherto  this  year.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
there  was  no  hunting  of  fox,  hare,  or  stag  within  a  very  wide 
radius  of  the  metropolis,  and,  if  the  evening  corresponds  to  the 
forenoon,  hunting  in  such  a  diluvial  downpour  would  be  a  very 
mixed  delight.  I  met  a  very  weather  and  water-proof  pursuer,  who 
told  me  he  started  for  "  The  Grange  "  (Kildare  hounds),  but  was 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  227 

driven  back  by  the  gushing  rain.  The  evening  was  tolerably  fine, 
and  so  warm  and  muggy  that  I  should  not  be  surprised  to  hear  of 
one  or  two  brilliant  hound  passages  and  beaten  fields. 

The  chronicle  of  hunting  events  would  be  incomplete  were  we 
to  pass  over  "  Sam  "  Reynell's  funeral  sub  silentio.  Much  of  hunt- 
ing Ireland  found  its  way  to  the  churchyard  shade  at  Reynella,  as 
a  glance  at  the  following  names  will  show :  The  Earls  of  Howth 
and  Clonmell,  Lords  Langford  and  Greville,  the  Hon.  Charles 
and  Harry  Bourke,  Mr.  Waller,  the  Hon.  E.  Preston,  Lieut- 
Colonel  Eraser,  V.C.,  Mr.  J.  L.  Naper,  Major  Naper,  Captain 
Hartopp,  Mr.  Dunville,  Captain  P.  Lowe,  Captain  J.  M'Calmont, 
Mr.  Macdonald  Moreton,  Messrs.  F.  and  M.  Chapman,  Mr.  R. 
Malone,  Mr.  Mervyn  Pratt,  Mr.  Pepper,  Mr.  Rothwell,  Mr.  S. 
Garnett,  Captain  Kearney.  Major  Donaldson.  Some  nine  of  the 
above  list  have  been  masters  of  hounds.  There  were  also  a  great 
many  of  the  peasantry  present — 

"  His  saltern  accumulem  donis  et  fungar  inani 
Munere." 

The  harrier  interest  has  been  very  triumphant  during  the 
last  week  or  ten  days.  Besides  Mr.  G.  Brook's  and  the  New- 
bridge pack  that  I  alluded  to,  the  Queen's  Bays  have  had  two 
very  good  runs  of  an  hour  and  an  hour  and  a  half  from  Garry- 
roan,  and  earlier  in  the  month  I  had  a  very  meritorious  perform- 
ance by  Mr.  Carey  Reeves's  hare -hounds. 

On  Friday,  the  iQth,  the  Meath  hounds  recommenced  hunting 
at  Philpotstown,  in  weather  most  hostile  to  sport.  I  hear  the 
show  of  foxes  at  Churchtown,  Meadstown,  and,  in  fact,  passim, 
was  very  good ;  but  their  ways  were  ringing  ways,  and  nothing 
very  decisive  took  place. 

I  hear  the  Curraghmore  hounds  had  a  very  fast  thirty-five 
minutes  from  Lane  Fox's  Gorse  on  Tuesday  last,  ending  in  a  kill. 
The  track  was  through  Carriganard,  Grace  Dieu,  and  Firmon, 
in  the  direction  of  Waterford. 


228  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

On  Friday,  the  i2th,  the  Kilkenny  hounds  were  interrupted 
in  their  career  by  Mr.  Ponsonby  Barker's  death,  but  Colonel 
Chaplin  improvised  a  by-Saturday  at  Windgap,  which  brought  a 
good  many  hunting  men  together.  Davis's  Gorse  furnished 
a  good  fox,  who  ran  by  Marsh's  Gorse,  through  Mr.  Morris 
Reade's  plantations  at  Rossenarra,  into  Castle  Morres,  where 
he  was  rolled  over  after  a  pleasant  fifty  minutes.  On  Monday, 
the  1 5th,  they  were  at  the  fifth  mile-stone  on  the  Dublin  road,  and 
had  a  short  gallop  to  ground  at  Gowran  from  Flagmount ;  and 
an  evening  run  from  Bishop's  Lough,  through  Blanchardstown, 
by  the  chapel  of  Pitt,  into  Clifden  Bottoms,  where  the  hounds  were 
stopped,  owing  to  the  approach  of  night. 

On  Thursday  last  the  Kildare  hounds  were  at  the  Grange 
village.  The  morning  was  one  that  would  have  daunted  even 
an  intrepid  pursuer.  The  afternoon  cleared,  and  the  small  party 
who  awaited  the  course  of  events  were  not  disappointed,  even 
if  they  saw  nothing  very  brilliant.  Knockrigg  Gorse,  the  first 
venture,  sent  forth  a  good  fox,  who,  selecting  the  drier  side  of 
his  grounds  for  breaking,  ran  by  the  Rath,  and  all  but  up  to 
the  Parsonage,  where  he  was  headed  back,  and  his  new  direction 
was  for  Ballyhook,  across  the  well-known  and  much-dreaded 
bog  drain  of  grimy  notoriety.  Here  the  hounds  got  a  good 
lead,  for  the  field  had  to  quest  about  for  a  crossing,  which  they 
at  last  found;  and  presently  came  another  flooded  drain  not 
far  from  Ballynure,  which  only  one  or  two  managed  to  cross 
successfully.  The  fox  now  brushes  by  Ballyhook  Gorse  on  his 
way  to  Saunder's  Grove ;  but  bending  to  the  right,  as  if  he  meant 
to  complete  the  circle,  he  saw  an  open  drain  or  sewer  in  Griffins- 
town,  and  into  it  he  crept.  By  all  accounts,  this  was  a  good 
hounds'  run  ;  the  field  had  a  stern  chase.  Matt  Conran's  Gorse 
and  Ballintaggart  were  non-holders  to-day;  but  Hatfield  the 
inexhaustible  provided  a  runner,  who  started  off  as  if  for  Halvers- 
town,  then  turned  to  the  right,  and  made  the  Bowery  (here  the 
field  were  compelled  to  trust  to  the  Dunlavin  road  for  the  most 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  229 

part,  owing  to  the  flooding  of  the  swampy  lands  around)  ran 
through  it,  and  worked  his  way  to  Logatrina,  crossed  the  Naas 
road,  and  was  lost  not  far  from  Cryhelp.  Pace  latterly  was  not, 
I  hear,  very  good. 

On  Saturday,  the  Ward  Union  hounds  were  for  the  second 
time  flooded  out  of  their  country ;  so  they — or  their  followers 
rather,  to  be  precise — threw  in  their  lot  with  the  Kildare  hounds, 
who  met  at  Rathcoole,  some  eight  miles  from  Dublin.  The 
field  was  enormous ;  the  day  was  fine.  Foxes  proved  con- 
spicuously absent  from  sight  or  smell  till  near  two  o'clock,  when 
a  Johnstown  Kennedy  fox  (or  a  visitor,  at  any  rate)  started  off  at 
top  speed  for  the  hills  under  which  it  nestles ;  ran  very  nearly  to 
the  Saggart  reservoir ;  and  brushed  past  Gouchers,  and  ultimately 
made  Tinode,  where  he  was  rattled  about  for  some  time.  A 
fresh  fox  (as  supposed)  then  started  up  before  the  pack,  and  led 
them  towards  Kilteel,  getting  into  a  hole  or  burrow  half  a  mile 
or  so  from  the  Kilteel  road. 

Mr.  Humphrey's  stag-hounds  also  stopped  hunting  last  week, 
in  tribute  to  Mr.  Reynell's  memory. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  had  an  exceptionally  fine  gallop  on 
Wednesday,  the  24th  inst,  which  began  by  Bay  ton  Park,  and 
progressed  by  Batterstown  Parsonage,  Blackball,  "  the  Hatchet," 
Kilmore,  Moynalvy,  Culmullen,  Warrenstown,  till  it  finished 
at  Dunshaughlin  village.  I  propose  to  write  in  my  next  letter 
at  length,  and  to  notice,  if  space  permits,  the  results  of  Monday's 
meeting  of  the  Kildare  hunting  senate  as  well.  Roughly  speaking 
an  M.F.H.  who  takes  Kildare  will  have  .£1500  or  ^"1600  per 
annum,  a  pack  of  hounds  found,  stables  and  kennels  for  his  estab- 
lishment, and  his  country  kept. 


230  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 


XVI. 

'  What's  that  skirting  the  hill-side  ? 
'Tis  the  fox'!  I'll  bet  a  hundred  ; 
Forward,  forward  let  us  ride  1 " 


Rathcoole  rendezvous — Fine  run  from  Johnstown  Kennedy — Baytown. 

THE  outlook  on  Friday  morning  was  on  a  semi-deluge  and  its 
natural  consequences.  On  Saturday  the  vis  medicatrix  natura, 
to  use  the  jargon  of  "  the  Faculty,"  had  done  wonders  to  dry  up 
the  surface  waters  and  harden  the  crust  of  the  pulpy,  water-sodden 
earth.  There  had  been  a  sharp  frost  during  the  night ;  the 
spiculae  of  ice  were  on  the  roads  and  all  around,  while  a  lambent 
sun  was  glorifying  everything  with  his  bright  far-reaching  rays. 
The  Kildare  hounds  met  at  Rathcoole,  a  village  neither  clean, 
comely,  nor  beautiful,  but  very  ancient,  which  lies  under  the 
shadow  of  the  Dublin  and  Wicklow  ranges  of  hills.  To-day  it 
was  glorious  in  colour,  enlivened  by  the  presence  of  several 
hundred  horsemen  and  horsewomen,  soldiers'  drags,  flashing 
sunlight,  war  horses  innumerable,  and  all  the  pomp  and  pride  and 
circumstance  of  war's  image.  Here  were  the  lords  of  the  soil, 
represented  by  the  ducal  and  noble  houses  of  Leinster,  Clonmell, 
Cloncurry,  Oranmore,  Harewood,  and  I  know  not  how  many 
more.  Here  were  the  lords  of  no  soil — lords  of  themselves,  that 
heritage  of  woe  according  to  Byron,  but  of  that  heritage  to-day 
there  were  scant  signs  or  tokens  visible.  Here  were  the  lords  of 
many  horses,  but  masters  peradventure  of  none,  and  side  by  side 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  231 

with  them  the  owner  (it  is  Saturday)  of  a  quiet  unpretending  nag 
horse,  which  somehow  gets  over  and  through  a  country,  and  does 
an  odd  bit  of  harness  and  hacking  perhaps  in  addition.  Here 
are  good  horse-masters  and  bad  horse-masters,  ladies  riding,  ladies 
driving  in  cars,  phaetons,  waggonettes,  and  croydons.  It  is  a 
field  day  for  garrison  and  staff,  cavalry,  artillery,  and  rifles  ;  but 
no  corps  muster  so  strong  as  the  Inniskillings,  and  no  two  majors 
are  more  effectively  mounted  than  Major  Gore  and  Major  Billing- 
ton  of  that  sporting  regiment — Major  Gore's  weight-carrier  being 
a  perfect  picture  of  symmetrical  strength ;  while  for  performance 
and  handiness  in  crossing  any  sort  of  country  with  a  steadying 
load  Major  Dent's  grey  hunter  is,  perhaps,  unrivalled.  Galway, 
Limerick,  the  Queen's  County,  Scotland,  and  a  great  many  more 
portions  of  her  Majesty's  dominions,  are  here  doughtily 
championed.  It  seems  to  every  eye  a  day  for  best  horses  and 
best  clothes.  The  enforced  rest  has  perhaps  restored  the  bloom 
on  many  an  overdone  hunter.  The  bright  sun  and  clear  air  has 
evoked  the  brightest  of  purple  togas.  Suffice  it  to  say  now  that 
it  was  a  very  bright,  joyous  scene,  worthy  the  panegyric  of  the 
laureate  of  the  chase  : 

"  When  all  around  is  gay — men,  horses,  dogs, 
And  in  each  smiling  countenance  appears 
Fresh  blooming  health  and  universal  joy." 

The  days  are  lengthening,  and  with  them  hunting  licence ;  so 
I  think  it  was  considerably  past  eleven  o'clock  when  we  filed 
down  into  a  miry,  flooded  lane-way,  whence  leathers  and  cords 
received  many  a  slushy  accolade.  From  this  we  emerge  into 
wide  green  fields  which  bound  Castlebagot  Gorse ;  but,  alas  ! 
the  trumpet  sounds.  There  is  no  fox  on  the  premises,  nor  yet 
in  the  neighbouring  shrubberies  of  Castlebagot  House.  I  said 
the  crowd  was  enormous ;  it  contained  a  few  perilous  kickers — of 
course  there  were  some  kickees.  Between  holes,  an  odd  fence  or 
two,  and  such  like  causes,  there  was  a  small  crop  of  disasters 
before  we  had  visited  the  third  covert  (Twelfth  Lock  Gorse). 


23  2  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Alas  !  no  luck  in  odd  numbers  to-day ;  it  was  empty,  and  foxless 
likewise. 

One  of  the  sights  of  the  forenoon  which  we  encountered  in 
these  progresses  over  the  paths  of  Macadam  was  a  large  company 
of  young  Levites,  probably  enjoying  a  holiday  ramble  from  May- 
nooth  or  some  affiliated  college,  all  wearing  the  biretta  or  black 
cap,  which  I  suppose  here,  as  in  the  case  of  the  judge  passing 
sentence,  symbolises  death  to  the  world  and  its  vanities.  They 
were  a  fine  stalwart  regiment  of  manly  looking  young  fellows, 
not  much  sicklied  over  with  the  pale  cast  of  thought.  If  there 
were  any  ritualists  in  our  cortege,  they  must  have  been  highly 
edified  by  the  ecclesiastical  costume  and  hierophantic  millinery. 
Perhaps  a  few  of  us  thought  of  old  Oxford  days,  when  "  Jack 
Adams,  who  coaches  so  well,  set  us  down  by  the  Royal  Defiance 
at  the  door  of  the  Mitre  Hotel,"  with  the  assurance  that,  arrived 
at  the  steps  of  the  Mitre,  we  were  safe  to  get  on  in  the  Church ; 
and  when,  to  quote  the  same  dear  old  supper-party  ditty,  known 
and  sung  of  all  men  on  the  banks  of  Isis,  we  "  flashed  our  top- 
boots  in  the  slums."  The  next  stage  was  a  very  long  and  dreary 
one  by  the  uneven  banks  of  the  canal,  called  Grand,  on  the  lucus 
principle,  because  no  grandeur  meets  the  eye  along  this  dreary 
waterway.  I  should  think  we  trotted  along  it  for  nearly  three 
miles,  perhaps  more,  till  we  came  to  a  nice  secluded  bit  of  gorse 
known  as  Miss  Gould's  Gorse,  the  townland  on  which  it  stands 
being  Lough  town.  There  is  a  curious  coincidence  about  this 
gorse  which  it  may  not  be  out  of  place  or  impertinent  to  mention 
here.  Sir  Edward  Kennedy,  the  then  master  of  the  Kildare 
hounds,  saw  that  a  gorse  covert  was  very  desirable  in  this  locality ; 
he  applied  to  Miss  Gould  and  her  landlord,  and  was  offered  any 
field  he  chose  to  select.  Having  made  his  choice,  and  sowed  it, 
the  next  step  was  to  make  an  earth ;  and,  on  his  visiting  the  place 
to  make  all  the  arrangements  for  the  purpose,  Sir  Edward  was 
accosted  by  an  old  man,  who  asked  for  the  post  of  earth-stopper, 
urging  that  he  had  the  best  claim.  "  Why  ?'^  said  Sir  Edward. 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  233 

"  Because  I  was  earth-stopper  in  your  father  Sir  John's  time ;  and 
this  was  the  old  covert,  and  here  is  the  old  earth  ! "  It  turned  out 
perfectly  true,  and  Sir  Edward  had  only  to  re-open  the  old  fox- 
haunt. 

After  very  careful  drawing,  this  place  too  was  pronounced 
blank;  and  the  next  venture,  a  small  screen  near  Lyons,  was 
equally  barren  of  result.  By  this  time  we  had  wandered  over  a 
great  deal  of  country,  and  patrolled  the  highways  and  by-ways 
in  anything  but  pleasant  fashion — for  this  is  the  season  of  survey 
and  inspection  of  roads,  and  the  contractors  have  "  fanged  "  them 
with  any  amount  of  newly  broken  stone.  As  a  natural  result,  a 
good  many  desertions  took  place  here ;  for  Johnstown  Kennedy, 
the  next  draw,  is  some  distance,  and  hunting  men,  like  generals, 
have  to  consider  the  retreating  as  well  as  the  forward  movement. 
Blackchurch  Inn  has  a  good  fame  for  its  cordials,  I  believe ;  at 
any  rate,  not  a  few  stopped  here  to  try.  My  business  was  to  pay 
for  a  horse  I  had  sent  on  the  night  before  ;  and  so  busy  were  they, 
that  five  minutes,  I  should  think,  elapsed  before  I  could  find 
any  one  good-natured  enough  to  receive  my  cash.  I  mention 
this  circumstance  to  show  how  very  quick  the  find  and  exodus  of 
the  fox  of  the  day  was.  The  inn  is  not  jive  yards  off  the  road, 
only  a  few  hundred  from  the  lower  gate  of  Johnstown  Kennedy ; 
and  five  minutes,  at  a  rough  calculation,  was  about  the  time  I  lost 
sight  of  the  pack,  for  I  made  my  way  into  Sir  Edward's  park 
directly,  but  only  to  find  that  the  hounds  were  streaming  away 
towards  the  Coolmine  Lodge.  Well,  what  of  that?  Tis  a  sight 
one  has  seen  many  score  of  times.  Foxes  are  too  fond  of  their 
luxuries  in  Johnstown  Kennedy  to  forsake  its  woods  without  at 
least  one  long  ring.  So  I  galloped  with  the  ruck ;  but  when  we 
emerged  at  the  Coolmine  Lodge,  oh,  horror !  no  hounds  were 
visible,  but  some  twenty-five  or  thirty  men  were  to  be  seen  from 
half  to  a  quarter  of  a  mile  ahead,  climbing  up  the  mountain-side 
at  the  best  pace  they  could  command.  Now,  say  what  you  like, 
three-quarters  of  a  mile  bustling  up  an  incline  which  begins  with 


234  HIBERNIA   VENAT1CA. 

the  mild  gradient  of  the  Derby  starting-point  or  the  Bedford 
chasing-course  finish  (to  use  popular  illustrations),  but  increases 
in  steepness  the  higher  you  go,  when  hounds  are  beating  you 
every  yard,  takes  most  of  the  "'  go  "  out  of  an  average  horse,  and 
leaves  a  residuum  of  limpness  and  flaccidity  not  very  desirable 
when  ugly  rotten  banks,  with  the  take-off  and  landing,  rendered 
indistinct  by  reason  of  gorse  or  heather,  are  before  you  and 
inevitable.  This  was  our  fate,  the  fate  of  the  polloi,  as  we  emerged 
from  the  gateway.  Some  rode  hard  to  a  point  to  the  left,  hoping 
to  catch  the  pack  in  Coolmine  Gorse — they  fared  badly,  I  think  ; 
others,  among  whom  were  Lord  Clonmell  and  the  Hon.  Charles 
Bourke,  galloped  along  the  high-road  towards  Kilteel,  turned  up 
a  useful  lane,  and  met  the  pack  at  a  sort  of  lodge  and  plantation 
on  the  top  of  Slieve  Thou  Hill.  The  twenty-five  men  or  there- 
abouts who  had  got  well  away  with  the  hounds,  were  led  by 
Major  Dent,  on  a  well-known  grey,  who  had  a  lead  of  fully  a 
hundred  yards  at  one  time.  An  inept  minority,  among  whom 
I  formed  a  unit,  followed  the  pack  in  a  sort  of  despairing  way, 
with  nothing  to  guide  us  ;  for  once  the  leading  division  had 
dipped  the  hill,  our  clue  was  gone.  Even  at  this  stage  a  ragged 
fence  or  two  had  told  its  tale  of  loose  horses — how  many  I  cannot 
say,  but  I  heard  of  several.  It  requires  a  good-hearted,  good- 
winded,  handy  horse  to  stay  near  hounds  in  these  latitudes.  A 
ditch  here  ;  a  narrow-backed  stone-faced  bank,  obscured  by  gorse, 
there  ;  a  small  wall ;  timber  stuck  in  a  gap— these  are  the  impedi- 
ments to  your  progress,  and  mostly  at  an  angle  dead  against  your 
hunter.  Once  on  top  of  the  hill,  the  riding  becomes  very  light 
and  springy ;  it  is  covered  with  a  growth  of  ling  and  heather  and 
one  wonders  why  it  is  not  peopled  with  black  game.  These  are 
the  near  objects;  the  distant  ones — very  distant  ones — are  three 
or  four  men  galloping ;  a  few  more  at  a  long  interval.  When  you 
look  around  you,  horsemen  seem  to  people  the  mountain  aimless 
and  objectless — perhaps  they  have  not  yet  caught  sight  of  the 
receding  leaders.  The  hounds,  meantime,  after  running  very 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  235 

near  Coolmine  Gorsc,  slipped  off  to  the  right,  driving  their  fox 
towards  Gouchers  Corse,  but  not  giving  him  a  chance  of  visiting 
it — save  in  spirit — as  they  pushed  him  along  with  a  blazing  scent 
up  the  reverse  of  the  hill  range,  over  the  flat  top,  and  so  on  with 
unslackened  pace  into  Tinode  Woods,  through  which  he  was 
rattled  towards  the  Downshire ;  but  his  strength  was  not  equal  to 
the  effort.  He  turned  downwards,  and  ran  past  Mr.  Cogan's 
residence,  the  hounds  making  the  whole  hillside  resound  with 
their  melody,  as  we  persevering  plodders  knew  well  to  our 
encouragement  In  a  deep  ravine  a  fresh  fox  (at  least  it  is  sup- 
posed he  was  a  fresh  one)  was  tallied  away  into  the  open,  and 
the  hounds  were  clapped  on  to  him.  For  a  quarter  of  a  mile  he 
ran  the  Kilteel  road,  the  hounds  working  admirably  in  spite  of 
the  stampede  in  their  rear,  when  he  turned  sharp  to  the  right 
hand,  crossed  a  few  grass  fields,  and,  who-\vhoop !  he  got  to 
ground  in  a  bank  in  the  corner  of  a  field.  Whether  there  was  a 
sewer  or  burrow  there,  I  cannot  say ;  for  'twixt  myself  and  the 
pack,  a  few  yards  only  distant,  stretched  a  bank,  not  all  too 
sound,  at  the  far  side  of  which  was  what  some  would  call  a  ditch, 
others  a  quasi-nullah,  and  here  I  confess  my  mount  declined  any 
further  risks  on  her  own  account  or  mine,  perhaps  prudently ; 
but  possibly  her  nerves,  like  my  own,  were  shocked  by  what 
I  saw — a  young  horse  coming  good  pace  to  the  bank,  flying  it, 
and  then  in  mid-air  just  managing  to  kick  back,  and  so  save  a 
bad  fall  in  all  probability. 

This  is  a  most  imperfect  version  of  a  very  fine  fast  run,  and 
of  the  chase  and  escape  of  a  very  sporting  bold  fox,  who  it  may 
be  hoped  will  infuse  his  intrepid,  straightforward  ways  into  the 
race  of  vulps  at  Johnstown  Kennedy.  I  saw  nothing  of  it  except 
the  last  little  bit  with  what  we  suppose  was  a  second  fox.  I  fancy 
very  few  out  of  the  original  good  starters  stayed  at  all  near  the 
pack,  while  I  hear  not  more  than  a  dozen  could  be  called  within 
reasonable  distance.  Some  hunters  that  I  know  to  be  good  vale 
horses  and  safe  fencers  came  down  at  these  peculiar  obstacles, 


236  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

and  a  popular  general  officer  looked  in  a  perilous  position  for  a 
moment  or  two,  but  got  off  all  right.  Kilteel — a  very  happy  little 
hill  covert,  formed  of  a  grove  well  lined  with  gorse — was  drawn 
blank  ;  and  here  a  dispersion  took  place,  not  a  few  having,  like 
myself,  a  long  journey  before  them. 

I  forgot,  in  alluding  to  Friday,  the  igth,  in  Meath,  when  they 
were  at  Philpotstown,  encircled  by  brimming  rivers,  to  mention 
that  they  killed  a  fox  from  Meadstown  after  a  ring,  and  had  a 
very  sharp  gallop  from  Tullaghnogue  till  stopped  by  darkness. 
On  Saturday  they  had  lots  of  hunting  about  the  Loughcrew  Hill 
and  in  Clonabray,  but  nothing  very  brilliant  or  decisive. 

On  Monday  the  flood  ban  was  taken  away  from  the  brave 
Ward  Union  men,  and  a  special  train  from  the  Broadstone  took 
down  a  rather  select  field  to  the  meeting-place,  Batterstown  station. 
There  were  one  or  two  Kildare  men  out,  a  Louth  man  or  two, 
a  good  many  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards,  and  one  or  two  Innis- 
killings,  one  or  two  Queen's  Bays  and  5th  Dragoons,  added  to 
about  the  usual  number  of  the  members ;  Mr.  Turbitt  acting  as 
the  master.  A  fine  run,  which  may  roughly  be  described  as  to 
and  from  Culmullen,  over  a  line  of  beautiful  grass  vale — say  six 
miles  in  all — was  spoilt  by  greyhounds  and  colleys,  who  cut  in 
constantly,  ruining  scent  and  directness.  Two  colley  dogs  com- 
pletely marred  the  first  stage  of  the  second  chase  by  Parsonstown 
Manor ;  the  second  stage  of  thirty-five  minutes  was  good. 

I  alluded  to  Mr.  Hamilton  Blubber's  recent  good  sport,  epito- 
mising rather  vaguely,  I  fear,  one  or  two  good  pursuits  I  had  heard 
of.  On  one  of  these  occasions,  when  the  hounds  had  just  missed 
their  prey,  which  they  had  well  earned,  the  covert-keeper  came  on 
the  scene,  and  when  the  master  asked  him  for  a  spade  or  pickaxe, 
or  something  of  the  sort,  declared  that,  so  far  from  aiding  in  such 
vulpecidism,  "  he  would  kill  the  man  who  attempted  to  dig  out  the 
fox."  Upon  this  Mr.  Stubber  took  the  mattock,  went  to  work, 
dug  up  the  fox  himself,  broke  him  up,  and  astonished  the  keeper. 
A  master  of  hounds  must  sometimes  be  master  of  men.  M.F.H.'s 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  237 

are  too  often  the  involuntary  slaves  of  some  of  their  dependents, 
who  atesume  airs  of  arrogance  because  they  have  much  in  the  way 
of  marring  and  making  sport  in  their  hands.  An  occasional  strong 
lesson  is  not  a  bad  thing. 

On  Wednesday  last  Mr.  Filgate  had  a  good  hour  with  a  fox 
from  Stephenstown,  killing  in  the  open ;  a  pleasant  thirty-five 
minutes  from  Clyde  Court,  through  Corballis  and  Kilmoony,  to 
ground  at  Rathtrist. 

On  Friday,  ipth,  a  good  gallop  from  Greenhills,  through 
Mosney,  Corballis,  and  Ballygarth,  died  away  as  a  storm  came 
on  ;  a  second,  from  Dardistown,  ended  the  same  way. 

Swainstown,  the  handsome  residence  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Preston, 
standing  in  rather  extensive  woodlands,  was  the  meeting-place  of 
the  Meath  hounds  on  Tuesday,  the  23rd  instant.  It  forms  one  of 
a  sort  of  quadrilateral  of  parks  and  pleasaunces  which  beautify 
the  fertile  bit  of  vale  through  which  the  Meath  line  meanders  (I 
cannot  say  rushes)  quietly,  so  as  to  give  the  traveller  ample  scope 
to  survey  the  beauties  of  Killeen  (Lord  Fingal's  castle),  Dunsany 
(Lord  Dunsany's),  and  Warrenstown,  on  the  far  side  of  the  metals. 
It  is  very  near  Kilmessan,  a  railway  station.  So,  in  spite  of  a 
very  dirty  morning,  there  was  a  very  large  accession  of  Garrison 
and  Ward  Union  pursuers,  while  Upper  and  Lower  Meath  were  in 
great  force,  and  strong  in  cavalry.  Kildare  was  championed  by 
the  Earl  of  Clonmell  on  Conrad,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  More  O'Ferrall, 
Mr.  Reeves,  and  one  or  two  more ;  while  among  the  visitors  were 
Lord  A.  Lennox,  the  Hon.  Mr.  Harbord,  Major  Naper,  Mr. 
Gordon,  Captain  Magennis,  Mr.  Rose,  Captain  Peterson,  Captain 
O'Beirne,  M.P.  The  ladies  equitant  formed  a  small  troop,  among 
whom  were  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Donaldson,  Mrs.  Johnson,  Miss  Cruise, 
Mrs.  Preston,  Miss  Coleridge,  Mrs.  Magennis,  Mrs.  Drake. 

I  said  the  day  was  a  dirty  one,  in  sailor's  parlance ;  a  lands- 
man might  say  filthy.  A  strong  south-easter  was  blowing  a  gale, 
while  at  intervals — at  least,  in  the  hour  before  the  meet — the  rain 
gushes  came  down  heavily;  they  were  lighter  during  the  day. 


238  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Kilcarty  Gorse  is  the  piece  de  resistance  of  this  meet,  and  many, 
I  think,  came  expressly  to  see  it  drawn.  I  believe  such  was  the 
intention  of  Mr.  Turbitt  and  a  few  of  his  friends,  who  hoped  to 
get  their  gallop  from  it  early,  then  post  off  to  Kilbrue,  where  one 
of  the  best  of  the  Ward  Union  red  deer  was  reported  as  recently 
viewed,  and  for  this  purpose  some  drag  hounds  were  posted  at  a 
convenient  distance.  This  plan  was  prevented,  first  by  Jem 
Brindley's  arrival  with  the  news  of  the  red  deer  having  decamped 
from  the  Kilbrue  feeding  grounds ;  secondly,  by  Kilcarty's  holding 
no  fox  to-day.  They  had  searched  Swainstown  woods  and  planta- 
tions in  vain  previously.  A  fox  turned  up  at  the  third  venture  in 
a  plantation  which  forms  one  of  the  boundaries  of  Dunsany  Park. 
The  hounds  started  on  capital  terms  with  him,  and  ran  him  very 
fast  and  musically  across  some  grassy  stretches  with  a  small  inter- 
vening brook,  which  afforded  some  fun ;  but  scent  was  most 
nickering  and  changeful,  and  in  twenty  minutes  or  twenty-five  this 
fox  was  hopelessly  lost.  The  Hill  of  Glaine  seemed  full  of  the 
much-desired  quadruped,  and  one  for  a  moment  led  to  hopes  of  a 
run,  as  he  faced  outwards  for  Culmullen  in  the  teeth  of  the  gale ; 
but  he  too  in  a  very  short  time  turned  parkwards,  and  baffled  the 
pack.  We  were  now,  I  believe,  fairly  en  route  for  the  open 
country,  when  a  fox  turned  up  in  a  skirting  wood  belonging  to 
Killeen,  and  he  was  rattled  up  and  down  (scent,  strangely  enough, 
seeming  just  as  good  among  the  trees  as  outside),  and  forced  across 
the  Dunshaughlin  road,  only  to  be  lost  in  his  turn.  We  are  now 
by  the  verge  of  Gerrardstown  Gorse,  a  large  safe  double  in  front 
of  us,  every  one  at  attention,  and  with  his  spot  picked  out  for  a 
quick  start.  Before  us  are  fine  wide  grassy  fields,  over  which  we 
strided  a  fortnight  ago  in  pursuit  of  the  Corbalton  fox ;  behind,  at 
a  distance  of  half  a  mile  or  so,  the  chain  of  parks  and  plantations 
through  which  we  had  been  cub-hunting  with  very  poor  result  all 
the  morning.  Every  chance  of  the  open  was  given  our  fox,  whom 
we  had  just  heard  of;  every  chance  seemed  against  his  running 
parkways.  But  his  motives  were  not  in  accord  with  ours;  so, 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  239 

crossing  the  Trim  road,  he  got  back  to  the  woods ;  and  there  I 
left  them,  having  a  lame  horse  or  a  tender  horse  under  me,  and 
not  caring  for  a  repetition  of  the  earlier  experiences  of  the  day. 
They  took  the  fox  very  fast  to  Corbalton,  I  heard  since. 

The  Upper  Meath  men  were  very  jubilant  over  a  capital  day's 
sport  which  they  had  yesterday,  of  which  I  fear  I  can  only  give  a 
meagre  sketch.  The  meeting-place  was  Slane,  the  village  by  Lord 
Conyngham's  fine  park  and  castle  of  the  same  name.  The 
coverts  were  full  of  foxes,  and  one  forced  out  seemed  inclined  to 
make  Grange  Geath  Gorse ;  but,  perhaps  fearing  the  ascent,  he 
held  on  by  Hussey's  Gorse  and  Tankardstown,  and  was  rolled 
over  in  the  open  near  the  latter  place,  after  a  very  long  and  per- 
severing chase.  "  The  Graigs  "  furnished  the  second  fox,  who  led 
hounds  and  horses  at  a  most  stretching  pace  for  eighteen  minutes 
through  Stackallan,  over  Barstone  Hill  by  Slane,  and  then  ran  for 
some  distance  over  the  line  of  the  morning  fox,  when  he  got  to 
ground  in  a  burrow.  Scent,  specially  in  the  afternoon  hours,  was 
pronounced  very  good ;  the  country,  too,  rode  far  lighter  than  on 
the  Dublin  side  of  the  county. 

"  Oh,  for  a  muse  of  fire  ! "  says  our  great  dramatic  poet,  "  that 
should  ascend  the  highest  heav'n  of  inspiration" — or  invention — 
which  was  it  ?  Oh,  for  an  observing  eye  !  says  your  scribe,  and 
the  power  of  reproducing,  even  faintly  and  dimly,  a  photograph  of 
a  magnificent  chase  which  the  Ward  Union  hounds  have  just  had. 
No  colouring,  no  embellishment,  is  required ;  a  tithe  part  of  the 
bare  unsophisticated  reality  would  be  enough  to  set  the  imagina- 
tions of  those  who  love  to  ride  for  eight  or  ten  miles  straight  over 
peerless  pastures,  unprofaned  by  the  plough  for  many  a  genera- 
tion ;  over  wide  fair  fences,  where  on  a  good  hunter —  a  real  work- 
man— you  can  go  almost  recklessly  at  the  first  place  that  presents 
itself  in  the  line  of  obstacle,  and  then,  if  you  think  you  have  three 
or  four  more  miles  in  hand,  you  will  find  five  or  six  companions  in 
your  wild  ecstacy,  a  streaming  pack,  and  a  deer  with  some  "  go  " 
left  still  in  its  agile  frame  and  unchoked  lungs  in  front  of  you. 


24o  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

He  is  not  magnifying  a  pursuit  which  he  saw  well  himself,  or  was 
fortunate  in ;  on  the  contrary,  it  was  his  lot  to  get  into  the  very 
first  ditch,  having  charged  a  wide  spot  with  perhaps  insufficient 
energy,  and,  as  extrication  involves  a  few  very  precious  seconds, 
a  stern  receding  chase.  Men  and  horses  succumbing  totally 
after  a  few  miles,  some  plodding  on  perseveringly,  most  abandon- 
ing pursuit  after  seven  or  eight  miles  had  been  compassed — these 
were  the  sights  which  his  eye  took  in  as  he  strained  it  to  make  out 
the  path  of  pursuit,  and  to  get  some  idea  of  the  vicissitudes  and 
the  geography. 

Those  who  travel  by  the  Meath  line,  if  they  have  any  hunting 
fire  in  their  composition,  must  be  attracted  by  the  wide  and  vividly 
green  fields  which  stretch  away  to  the  horizon  on  either  side  of 
the  metals,  unarrested  by  any  chain  or  barrier  of  hill,  lake,  or  sea, 
though  every  here  and  there  the  land  seems  to  swell  into  gentle 
undulations ;  and  these  in  this  flat  land  they  call  hills,  because 
they  give  an  immense  command  of  survey  and  vision.  It  is  a 
very  rare  thing  hereabouts  to  meet  a  ploughed  field.  The  land  is 
worth  (I  speak  roughly)  some  ^5  round  by  the  statute  acre,  and 
many  would  be  glad  to  take  any  amount  of  it,  I  believe,  at  that 
figure.  For  many  a  square  mile  this  pastoral  land  is  entirely  free 
from  anything  like  clusters  of  parks  or  woodlands.  It  is  devoted 
to  cattle  mainly  ;  it  is  strongly  and  deeply  fenced,  but  the  fences 
are  fair  and  untrappy,  and  for  the  most  part  singles.  A  few  farm- 
houses dot  it  about,  and  a  few  herds'  cottages ;  an  old  chapel  and 
church  rear  their  modest  forms  in  the  landscape ;  otherwise  it  is  a 
wilderness  of  grass ;  nearly  treeless,  with  strong  quick  hedges  to 
shelter  the  stock. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  rendezvoused  at  Baytown  Park  on 
the  24th,  a  nearly  treeless  park,  the  nominis  umbra  being  almost 
the  only  appreciable  shade  to  be  met  with.  It  is  about  a  couple 
of  miles  from  Dunboyne,  and  twelve  English,  to  calculate  roughly, 
from  the  metropolis.  The  coach  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards 
brought  a  fair  number  of  soldiers  from  Dublin — dragoons,  rifle- 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  241 

men,  staff,  and  artillery.  Lord  Langford  came  from  Summerhill ; 
Mr.  Rose,  of  Limerick,  from  Dublin;  while  Messrs.  Macneil, 
Tuthill,  Murphy,  Davis,  M'Gerr,  Butler,  Morris,  etc.,  are  more  or 
less  connected  with  the  neighbourhood.  The  majority  of  the 
other  pursuers,  some  thirty  or  forty,  hailed  from  Dublin  city.  Mr. 
Turbitt  was  the  acting  master  of  the  ceremonies;  but  there  was 
little  preliminary  preparation.  The  deer  was  enlarged  very  near 
the  meeting-place,  on  the  way  to  Vcsington  (to  be  topographical), 
and  the  hounds  started  off  with  a  head  which  looked  like  a  fast 
gallop.  A  wide  ditch,  some  eight  or  ten  feet  broad,  hairy  and 
deep,  is  the  first  obstacle.  A  few  got  over  the  first  spot  charged  ; 
a  few  hesitate,  one  or  two  get  in,  the  majority  flank  it;  pace  is 
good.  It  is  rather  more  than  a  mile  to  Batterstown  Parsonage, 
and  here  we  jump  into  a  laneway,  which,  in  a  few  hundred  yards, 
leads  us  towards  Ballymaglasson  and  BlackhalL  There  is  a  mo- 
mentary pause  here.  Then  the  line  leads  on  straight,  and  most  in- 
telligibly, on  towards  "  the  Hatchet " — a  celebrated  Meath  fixture, 
keeping  parallel  to  the  Dunboyne  road.  For  two  or  three  miles 
the  even  flat  tenor  is  held  on,  when  the  land  begins  to  rise  a  little 
as  we  pass  Mr.  M'Gerr's  farm,  and  rise  the  celebrated  hill  of  the 
Mullagh,  a  great  low  grassy  wart  on  the  smooth  face  of  nature, 
which  commands  a  very  wide  prospect ;  a  mile  or  two  more  brings 
us  past  Kilmore  Parsonage,  and  the  chase  appears  holding  on  for 
Summerhill,  Lord  Langford's  park,  some  three  or  four  miles 
westwards ;  but  presently  our  deer  bends  by  Moynalvey  chapel 
(the  field  was  here  reduced  by  desertions,  falls,  accidents,  lost 
shoes,  and  what  not,  to  very  small  proportions  indeed),  brushes 
past  Beltrasna  Gorse,  to  ascend  another  slight  gradient  (but  how  it 
told  !)  to  Culmullen.  Then  once  more  it  is  downhill,  and  it  leads 
on  to  Warrenstown  village ;  then  by  the  outskirts  of  Dunsany 
(here  are  two  phases  of  the  royal  sport,  for  we  were  in  this  district 
yesterday)  to  Drumree  station.  Then  in  a  few  moments  followed 
the  capture,  at  a  point  very  near  Dunshaughlin  village.  Messrs. 
M'Gerr  and  Fitzgerald  were,  I  believe,  the  nighest  during  the  last 


242  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

stages  of  the  run  ;  and,  as  Mr.  M'Gerr  started  in  front,  it  is  a  fair 
inference,  judging  by  what  one  sees  of  his  riding  habitually,  that 
he  was  in  a  forward  position  all  through.  With  these  two  were 
Messrs.  Wardrop,  Waldron,  Rose,  Hone,  and  one  or  two  more ; 
while  Mr.  Murphy  (on  Sapling)  and  Mr.  W.  Butler  were  in  the 
van  for  some  distance.  Many  had  stopped,  or  been  forced  to 
stop,  four,  five,  and  perhaps  six  miles  from  the  finish ;  and  this 
tells  its  tale  to  people  who  know  anything  about  hunting  when 
I  add  that  there  was  not  a  single  sensational  jump — no  eighteen 
feet  of  deep  water,  no  stiff  timber  barrier,  no  masonry  wall ;  the 
fences  were  large  and  fair  all  through ;  but  pace,  distance,  and 
occasional  rising  ground  told  their  tale  on  slack  condition  and 
flaws  in  the  ancestral  tree.  It  is  a  bold  assertion  to  make,  but 
I  do  not  think  such  a  run  possible  in  any  other  part  of  the  three 
kingdoms — certainly  not  in  any  portion  of  "  the  shires  "  within  my 
experience.  I  should  estimate  it  at  over  a  dozen  miles,  nor  do 
I  think  the  hour  was  very  much  exceeded  ;  but  I  did  not  time  the 
run,  and  I  speak  by  conjecture,  though  not  quite  without  data. 

On  Tuesday  last  the  Kildare  hounds  met  a  fairly  large  field  at 
Sallins  in  storm  and  tempest.  Bellavilla  Gorse  furnished  a  fox, 
who  ran  through  Longtown  into  Firmount,  then  shaped  his  course 
along  the  boundaries  of  these  two  places,  and,  inclining  to  the  left 
hand  through  Killibegs,  made  Downings,  where  he  found  sanc- 
tuary in  the  root  of  an  old  ash  tree,  which  has  long  been  a  fox 
nursery.  It  was  a  fast  twenty  minutes  over  a  rather  nasty  line  of 
country.  The  wild  gorse  of  Gingerstown  (Castle  Keely  failing  to 
hold)  supplied  the  second  runner.  He  made  his  point  for 
Landenstown,  and  reached  it  in  sixteen  minutes  of  galloping  pace; 
and  here  he  got  a  few  moments'  breathing  space,  when  he  started 
for  Donore,  but,  headed  after  a  few  fields,  ran  by  Castle  Keely 
back  to  Landenstown,  where  he  was  rolled  over.  Grief  and  dirt 
were  very  conspicuous  after  this  last  scurry,  which  lay  through 
rather  swampy  lands. 

The  Kilkenny  hounds  are,  by  all  accounts,  doing  full  justice 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  243 

to  the  stout  old  foxes  for  which  the  county  has  long  been  famous. 
Thus,  on  Wednesday,  the  i  yth,  they  met  at  Knocktopher,  when 
Sir  James  and  Lady  Langrishe  were  the  hosts,  the  field  the  guests, 
at  a  hunting  breakfast.  Kiltorkan  Gorse  supplied  the  fox  of  the 
day;  he  skirted  Coolmine,  Sir  John's  Gorse,  Knockmilan,  and 
Firgrove,  ran  back  to  Kiltorkan,  and  was  killed  close  by  Sir  John's 
Gorse  after  an  hour  and  a  quarter.  On  Friday  a  ring  from  the 
"  Rock  "  was  rather  below  the  Freshford  average,  where  they  met. 
On  Monday,  the  22nd,  they  were  at  Jenkinstown,  the  park  of 
Mr.  George  Bryan,  one  of  the  county  members,  beyond  which  to 
the  north'ard  there  is  some  fine  wild  country.  After  some  wood- 
land work  they  drew  Dunmore  Park,  Lord  Ormonde's  covert, 
found,  and  had  a  sharp  ring,  then  a  quick  scurry  over  Mr.  Doyle's 
farm,  killing  their  fox  when  he  was  apparently  bound  for  Castle- 
comer  Coverts. 

Kildare  is  still  masterless — the  horn  is  within  the  grasp  of 
a  competent  stranger.  A  quasi  competitive  examination  as  to 
qualifications  of  head  and  heart,  purse  and  person,  venatic  voca- 
tion and  experience  will  be  instituted.  Among  the  examiners  will 
be  Lords  Drogheda  and  Clonmell.  It  is  the  first  time  that  the 
office  has  been  open,  for  hitherto  the  succession  has  been  most 
strictly  limited  to  countrymen,  and  the  new  expansion  of  liberal 
ideas  in  this  direction  is  due,  I  rather  think,  more  to  a  combination 
of  circumstances  than  to  any  new  difficulties  in  a  master's  path,  or 
any  diminution  of  the  credit  attached  thereto.  Ideas  are  apt  to 
take  involuntarily  a  financial  turn  at  this  season,  when  reflection 
follows  festivity,  and  tradesmen,  with  "  the  first,  second,  and  third 
of  this  tenor,"  are  apt  to  draw  the  pensive  mind  in  this  direction. 
The  tergiversation  of  the  Turks — those  terrible  Turks  ! — "  the 
wisdom  of  the  Egyptians,"  will  not  be  lost  on  us  as  a  nation  if  we 
follow  steadily  on  the  path  of  prudence  and  retrenchment  on 
which  we  have  entered,  even  in  Kildare.  I  throw  it  out  as  a  sug- 
gestion that  candidates  for  the  office  should  be  invited  to  enter 
horses  for  the  annual  red-coat  race  which  winds  up  the  Kildare 


244  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

season,  and  that  a  decided  preference  should  be  given  to  what  one 
may  call  a  double  first — the  man  who  wins  in  both  classes,  the 
1 4  stone  and  the  1 2  stone.  Among  the  possible  masters  for  Kildare, 
I  hear  Lord  Shannon  and  Captain  Cosby  mentioned.  Their  hunting 
antecedents  are  too  well  known  for  me  to  allude  to  them  now. 

On  Friday,  the  Westmeath  hounds  had  a  very  fair  day's  sport 
from  Drumcree  and  Hope's  Gorse,  to  which  I  may  refer  by-and-by. 
The  last  run  was  very  promising  till  a  colley  dog  intervened  and 
marred  it 

On  Saturday  the  Ward  Union  hounds  were  neither  very  happy 
in  their  country  nor  their  quarry ;  while  on  Monday  their  efforts 
to  hunt  in  tempest  were  not  crowned  with  the  success  which  often 
attends  enterprise  and  adventure. 

The  Kildare  hounds  had  a  very  long  hunting  run  on  Saturday 
from  Cryhelp,  followed  by  a  very  quick  burst  from  the  Blackthorns, 
which  was  continuously  good  as  long  as  light  lasted.  On  the 
24th,  Mr.  Filgate,  after  drawing  Beaulieu  and  Newtown  both 
blank,  found  at  Castlecoe,  and  had  a  very  sharp  quarter  of  an 
hour  by  Colistoun,  and  by  the  shore  behind  Rath  into  Newtown  ; 
from  the  latter  they  forced  him  away  into  Blackball,  where  he  got 
to  ground  in  a  rabbit  hole.  Nearly  forty  minutes,  all  told.  A 
second  fox  turned  up  in  Blackball ;  he  ran  round  the  park  first, 
then  crossed  the  railway  by  Drumshallon,  left  Rokeby  on  the  left, 
and  again  crossed  the  rails  by  Carrickbogget ;  and,  racing  past 
Walshestown  chapel,  took  a  line  straight  to  the  hill  of  Almonds- 
town.  Up  to  this  the  hounds  had  never  checked,  but  here  they 
probably  changed  foxes,  taking  one  on  to  the  strand  at  Ryndstown, 
when  light  failed,  though  the  fox,  dead  beat,  was  just  in  front  of 
them.  On  Friday,  the  26th,  they  met  at  Collon,  but  did  not  find 
till  they  reached  Tenure  Gorse,  the  fox  taking  them  a  splendid 
line  to  Mullerry,  where  he  got  to  ground  under  the  old  church. 
Finding  at  Painstown,  they  took  their  fox  across  the  Ardee 
racecourse,  then  by  Dromina  into  Dunleer  Court,  thence  to 
Rathescar  and  across  to  Collon,  when  a  badly  stopped  earth  saved 
him,  after  running  for  one  hour  and  a  quarter. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  245 


XVII. 

"  Many  a  day  from  yonder  spinney,  in  November  moist  and  chill, 
Have  I  seen  the  wily  animal  steal  slowly  up  the  hill. " 


The  fox  in  ambush — "The  Ward"  at  the  eighth  mile-stone — Snow  and  storm — 
Drumcree — Brannoxtown — Pageant  at  Abbotstown. 

I  HAVE  been  spending  some  short  intervals  between  hunting  in 
studying  something  of  the  natural  history  of  fox  life.  Any  one 
who  has  observed  a  chained  fox  for  any  time  will  have  seen  how 
keen  he  is  in  watching  the  birds  within  his  purview — or  within 
his  pad-reach,  to  be  more  exact — no  cat  is  stealthier  or  quicker 
in  striking ;  a  pigeon  has  a  poor  chance  within  chain  limit.  Now, 
close  to  my  back  lodge  there  is  a  small  field  of  cow-cabbage, 
which,  till  the  quice  or  wood-quests  of  the  neighbourhood 
swooped  down  upon  them  (like  locusts  in  Kansas),  were  most 
healthy  of  heart,  and  vigorous  and  round  of  girth  ;  now  they  are 
picked  as  bare  as  the  Monument,  except  in  a  few  spots.  When- 
ever I  put  a  pointer  into  this  field  he  stands  rigid,  and  up  jumps 
a  splendid  old  dog-fox,  red  as  a  rose  and  bushy  of  brush,  within 
a  few  yards.  Now  this  fox  must  I  think  have  followed  the  quice, 
and  must  have  been  lying  in  ambush  for  them  among  the  few 
uneaten  cabbages;  for  the  field  in  question  is  bounded  by  a 
broad,  sunny  bank,  full  of  gorse,  grass,  and  warm  lying ;  nor  do 
I  think  he  would  persist  in  staying  in  the  plough  for  any  less 
motive  after  having  been  disturbed  by  man  and  dog.  The  quice 


246  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

are  exceedingly  numerous,  and  the  mischief  they  have  done  is 
very  great.  I  should  think  a  judicious  fox  watching  his  oppor- 
tunity would  have  no  difficulty  in  making  his  right  and  left. 

Having  enlarged  upon  one  or  two  very  brilliant  hunting 
passages  which  came  under  my  ken,  I  fear  I  have  omitted  not  a 
few  moderate  days  with  the  fashionable  packs  within  reach  of  the 
metropolis.  Some  of  these  may  be  dismissed  in  a  very  few  lines. 
Thus,  the  Meath  hounds  at  Trim  on  Friday  last  excited  any 
amount  of  eager  hope  and  expectation  in  many  bosoms ;  but  the 
swollen  current  of  the  Boyne  arrested  the  tide  of  pursuit  from 
Trimblestown,  which  up  to  this  watery  barrier  had  glided  along 
very  rapidly ;  nor  did  the  evening's  hunting  from  Clifton  Lodge 
(Tullaghanogue  being  foxless)  make  amends  for  the  early  dis- 
appointment. 

The  Queen's  Bays'  harriers  continue  to  keep  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Cahir  and  their  masters  very  well  occupied,  as  they  find 
the  hares  of  the  county  very  stout  and  inclined  to  run  straight ; 
one  on  Thursday  last  only  succumbed  after  four  miles'  straight 
going  at  good  trying  pace. 

On  Saturday  I  followed  the  precept  of  the  wise  in  their 
generation  in  wooing  fortune,  namely,  to  follow  on  my  luck — Wed- 
nesday's luck — for,  say  what  you  will,  there  is  much  luck  in  hunting. 
Misfortunes,  says  the  bard  of  Avon,  seldom  come  in  single  spies, 
but  in  battalions  ;  so  a  victorious  and  successful  pack  of  hounds 
often  throws  in  for  several  good  things  in  rapid  succession ;  while 
a  demoralized,  baffled,  and  dispirited  pack  not  seldom  makes  a 
long  repetition  of  bad  days,  till  something  or  other  brings  a 
reaction  and  turns  the  tide.  The  Ward  Union  hounds  were 
announced  as  meeting  at  the  eighth  mile-stone  on  the  Dublin 
road ;  and,  sooth  to  say,  a  very  large  section  of  hunting  Dublin 
turned  out  to  welcome  Charley  and  Jem  Brindley  and  their 
favourites ;  one  of  the  brightest  days  of  the  season,  when  in  the 
clear  cold  air  of  the  afternoon  every  object  in  nature  gleamed 
forth  with  an  almost  pre-Raphaelite  distinctiveness.  It  is  no 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  247 

wonder  that  soldiers  and  citizens,  men  of  peace  and  men  of  war, 
men  of  commerce,  and  men  of  technical  learning,  sons  of  Mars, 
Themis,  Esculapius,  and  I  know  not  how  many  more  Pagan 
divinities,  and  daughters  of  Diana  in  carriages  and  habits  swelled 
the  throng  of  pursuit,  which  was  not  confined  by  any  means  to 
Dublin  and  its  Garrison,  for  Captain  Trotter  was  there  from 
Navan,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy  from  Culmullen, 
Mr.  and  Miss  Hussey,  Mr.  W.  Butler,  Captain  O'Beirne,  M.P., 
and  several  others  whom  one  sees  in  the  fox-hunting  array ;  while 
among  the  crowd  were  one  or  two  horses  of  public  fame,  such  as 
Fairy  Queen,  and  one  or  two  men  who  have  stamped  themselves 
as  capable  horsemen  between  the  flags.  Clock-like  punctuality 
seems  to  mark  the  Ward  Union  movements,  and,  indeed,  any 
slackness  in  this  respect,  considering  that  the  meets  are  fixed 
for  the  easy  time  of  1.15,  would  in  these  short  days  be  very 
dangerous.  A  by-road,  down  which  we  wound  past  the  chapel 
of  Donoughmore,  brought  us  to  a  place  called  Miltown — not 
much  of  a  misnomer,  because,  if  there  were  no  mill  actually  in 
esse  there,  there  were  brooks  hard  by  which  might  be  utilized  to 
any  extent 

The  moment  we  got  inside  a  gateway,  near  a  house  in  ruins, 
the  hounds  began  to  run  fast ;  but  in  five  or  six  minutes  they 
came  back  very  nearly  to  their  starting-point,  and  then  com- 
menced the  pursuit  in  real  earnest ;  it  led  us  fairly  straight  for 
about  a  mile,  and  perhaps  a  half  in  addition,  over  some  widish 
but  fair  fences,  when,  between  mistakes  and  cannons,  an  odd 
loose  horse  might  be  picked  up,  and  a  man,  tired  of  bay,  might 
turn  to  chestnut  Robertstown  is  our  next  stage,  and,  crossing 
the  road  by  a  small  wall,  we  are  in  a  valley  watered  by  the  Fields- 
town  brook.  It  is  bounded  by  a  wire  fence ;  but  the  wire  is  open 
in  spots,  and  so  we  pass  through,  not  without  delay,  while  the 
hounds  are  topping  a  gorsy  hill  in  front  of  us,  looking  as  if  we 
are  in  fox  pursuit.  Soon  we  come  to  a  very  miry  laneway,  with 
strong  quick  hedges  on  either  side.  It  has  one  or  two  passes; 


248  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

but  if  you  miss  these,  and  fancy  you  can  find  something  better 
higher  up  or  lower  down,  you  are  doomed  to  a  stern  chase, 
perhaps  never  to  catch  the  flying  pack  till  they  reach  the  sea- 
board, a  few  miles  to  the  eastward.  Such  was  not  the  fate  of  any 
to-day;  for  the  deer,  after  running  to  Fieldstown,  turned  back- 
wards, and  shaping  a  course  towards  Palmerstown,  got  back  to  a 
point  near  Ashbourne,  where  a  capture  was  made.  The  county 
to-day  was  not  anything  like  so  pleasant  as  the  Ward  Union  deer 
have  traversed  recently — not  so  large,  perhaps,  but  very  irregular 
— with  fences,  of  which  some  seemed  impracticable  to  the 
ordinary  calibre  of  hunters,  and  not  reassuring  at  a  glance  to 
either  man  or  horse.  Few  saw  the  run  well  after  its  earlier  stages, 
and  many  falls  marked  its  progress,  among  the  supine  being  one 
or  two  of  the  very  best-mounted  men  in  this  part  of  Ireland. 

There  was  a  project  for  an  attempt  on  the  liberty  of  an  out- 
lying deer  at  Kilbrew,  but  I  hardly  think  it  could  have  been 
executed;  the  distance  and  the  little  daylight  remaining  being 
strong  arguments  against  carrying  it  out  to-day. 

Sir  David  Roche's  pack  has  been  showing  fair  sport,  but 
without  passages  as  brilliant  as  in  the  earlier  part  of  the  season 
till  last  week,  when  they  found  a  good  fox  in  Main  Gorse,  who 
led  them  a  tremendous  chase  over  the  best  part  of  their  vale 
towards  Ballingarry.  He  did  not,  however,  enter  this  covert,  but 
passed  it  on  the  right,  pointing  for  Ahylin  Wood ;  but  neither  did 
he  enter  this  stronghold,  but  pushed  on  for  some  more  distant 
goal,  till  the  pack  viewed  him  and  rolled  him  over :  a  nine-mile 
point,  probably  twelve  as  the  hounds  ran.  I  regret  I  cannot  give 
you  the  time,  for  it  was  not  taken. 

On  Sunday  I  think  even  the  poachers,  with  their  greyhounds 
and  curs,  must  have  been  beaten  off  by  the  hyperborean  weather, 
which  began  with  some  smart  volleys  of  hail  and  ended  in  a 
snowstorm,  which  was  heavy  enough  to  lie  on  the  sodden  and 
water-logged  fields  till  everything  was  draped  in  white.  By 
Monday  a  tempest  of  wind  and  rain  had  obliterated  nearly  every 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  249 

vestige  of  snow,  but  hunting ! — I  write  in  the  forenoon — no  one 
but  a  hardened  old  Centaur  would  think  of  such  a  thing !  And 
yet  they  did  hunt !  I  write  in  the  evening.  The  meet  at 
Culmullen  cross-roads  is  now  a  fait  accompli ;  but  Beckford  was 
right,  hunting  in  tempest  is  seldom  stamped  with  success.  I  had 
no  idea  that  snow,  succeeded  by  sleet  and  gushing  rain,  could  in 
twenty-four  hours  have  flooded  the  country,  which  was  just 
beginning  to  acknowledge  the  drying  processes  of  the  last  four 
or  five  days'  respite  from  rain  and  storm  to  the  extent  it  has 
actually  done.  Not  only  has  every  field  a  small  lacustrine  system 
of  its  own,  which  makes  an  almost  even  division  of  the  surface ; 
but  the  roads  are  turned  into  canals  in  many  places  by  the  over- 
flow of  brooks  and  gorged  conduits,  and  the  driving  wind  lashed 
these  canals  and  temporary  water-ways  into  miniature  billows 
and  surf ;  the  cattle  and  sheep  were  huddled  together,  cowering 
from  the  storm,  wherever  any  shelter  presented  itself;  and  the 
rustics,  when  asked  about  the  arrival  of  the  hounds  and  the 
prospects  of  a  chase  seemed  to  question  your  sanity.  However, 
come  they  did,  with  their  wonted  punctuality — for  Ashbourne 
time,  let  me  tell  the  reader,  is  practically  equal  to  Greenwich  time 
in  its  precision.  I  suppose  the  truth  was  that  so  sudden  was  the 
storm  there  was  no  time  to  countermand  horses,  boxes,  etc. ;  and 
the  fact  of  a  special  train  leaving  the  Broadstone  terminus  every 
Monday  made  it  imperative  on  the  Brindleys  to  be  there.  Of 
course  the  field  was  small  and  select ;  but  it  comprised  some  of 
the  hardest  elements  to  be  met  with,  among  them  being  Lord 
Langford,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  the  Messrs.  Hone, 
Mr.  Allen,  etc.  The  red  deer,  when  enlarged  near  the  new 
chapel  or  church,  sailed  away  with  the  wind  on  her  quarter, 
through  Cultromer,  then  turning  to  the  left,  gained  the  Cross 
Keys,  and  held  on  through  Mr.  Doyle's  farm ;  then  the  Dublin 
road  looked  far  too  attractive  to  be  passed  by  for  holding  fields, 
and  along  this  track  she  continued  till  Batterstown  station  was 
reached,  when  the  Meath  line  tempted  her,  and  along  this  she 
ran  in  full  view  of  the  pack. 


250  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

Drumcree,  the  residence  of  General  the  Hon.  Leicester  Curzon 
Smythe,  was  the  meet  of  the  West  Meath  hounds  last  Friday. 
Three  foxes  turned  up  in  the  gorse,  and  the  hounds  settling  to 
one  sent  him  along  towards  Winetown,  where  he  was  turned  back 
and  forced  to  run  through  Glanavea  and  Drumcree  again ;  he 
then  went  away  for  Loughbawn,  but  was  foiled  once  more  in  this 
impulse,  and  he  again  tried  Winetown,  but  only  to  be  again 
headed.  He  now  made  for  Barbavilla,  but  when  crossing  the  hill 
over  Collinstown  the  hounds  ran  from  scent  to  view,  and  rolled 
him  over  in  the  open  close  to  Collinstown  village.  A  good 
hunting  run ;  one  hour  and  twenty-five  minutes,  and  the  latter 
part  of  it  was  fast.  They  next  found  a  brace  in  Hope's  Gorse, 
and  ran  one  of  them  fast  over  a  good  line  towards  Knock  Ion 
Hill  Gorse ;  but  when  within  a  mile  of  it  a  colley  dog  coursed 
the  fox,  and  spoiled  pursuit 

Hunting  and  steeplechasing  are,  in  their  best  forms,  supposed 
to  be  so  closely  allied,  that  it  may  not  be  out  of  place  to  comment 
for  a  moment  on  the  programme  of  the  Cambridgeshire  steeple- 
chase, which  I  see  advertised  in  your  last  issue.  The  framers  of 
the  articles  appear  to  me  to  have  had  one  great  object  in  view — 
the  apportionment  of  prizes  to  animals  capable  of  carrying  men 
hunting,  and  not  mere  instruments  of  gambling,  as  so  many  of 
the  metamorphosed  chasers  of  the  day  really  are,  while  the 
penalties  and  maiden  allowances  ought  to  attract  good  fields  of 
well-bred  hunting  horses  to  catch  the  eyes  of  buyers.  I  do  not 
know  the  Cottenham  pastures ;  but,  as  nearly  every  English 
steeplechase  course  that  I  have  seen  is  fully  iclbs.  severer  than 
the  average  of  Irish  tracts,  here  methinks  is  matter  for  reflection 
to  stewards  and  promoters  of  the  Irish  hunt  races. 

Saturday,  the  27th,  was  not  only  a  very  enjoyable  day,  but  it 
yielded  something  more  than  an  average  of  sport  to  the  large 
numbers  who  met  at  the  village  of  Brannoxtown,  where  three 
parks — Major  Borrowes's,  Mr.  J.  La  Touche's,  and  Mr.  Cramer 
Roberts's — converge.  Moorhill,  the  first  covert  visited,  yielded 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  251 

no  fox  !  so  a  stage  was  made  to  Cryhelp  Gorse,  from  which  a  fox, 
described  as  very  small,  broke  and  ran  to  the  neighbouring  gorse 
of  Copelands  (two  miles  distant,  more  or  less)  and  back  again, 
but  by  a  different  route.  Then,  forced  a  second  time  out  of  Cry- 
help,  he  took  a  line  towards  Hollywood,  and  got  round  by  rather 
a  circuitous  process  to  Copelands.  The  pace  over  the  bottom 
lands,  where  scent  lay  warm,  was,  I  hear,  superb ;  and  on  dit  that  a 
noble  and  hard-riding  eloquent  lord  left  a  cast  of  his  profile  each 
side  in  the  clay  which  lines  the  banks  and  ditches  here.  Another 
exodus  from  Copelands  leads  our  vulp  back  to  Cryhelp,  where  the 
covert-keeper  intervened,  and  opened  the  earth  for  his  stout  little 
protege.  After  three  o'clock  p.m.  the  Blackthorns  at  Harristown 
were  drawn  blank,  when  a  fox  was  viewed  stealing  away.  The 
hounds  were  laid  on  at  once,  raced  him  through  Geganstown  and 
Ardenode,  and  forced  him  across  the  Ballymore  Eustace  road, 
where  his  course  lay  over  splendid  old  upland  pastures,  wide  and 
large,  into  Moorhill;  hustled  through  the  covert,  he  ran  through 
Geganstown  and  the  Blackthorns  across  Rochestown  and  the 
Dunlavin  road,  when  he  entered  Sallymount,  and  here  hounds 
were  whipped  off  from  want  of  light 

This  must  have  been  a  very  good  day's  sport  by  the  strong 
and  decided  impression  it  left  on  the  strangers  and  visitors.  I  did 
not  see  the  fun  myself,  having  been  out  with  the  Ward  Union 
stag-hounds  at  an  interval  of  many  miles.  Among  the  occurrences 
of  the  day  was  the  fall  of  Kildare's  best  medium-weight  (I  think 
I  express  the  general  opinion  of  judges)  at  one  of  the  many 
score  of  rotten,  ragged,  gorsy,  crumbling  banks,  any  of  which  are 
quite  capable  of  upsetting  an  uneducated  or  half-educated  hunter. 
His  hunter  got  away  from  him,  and  was  so  full  of  "go"  that, 
when  tracked,  he  was  found  trying  to  jump  the  iron  railings  which 
protect  the  Ballynure  churchyard,  some  six  or  seven  miles  distant 
from  the  scene  of  the  catastrophe. 

On  Tuesday  the  Duke  of  Marlborough  held  his  first  la>ee  in 
Dublin  Castle,  and  to  give  heads  of  departments  (as  they  used  to 


252  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

call  them  in  the  colonies)  an  opportunity  of  paying  their  devoirs 
to  her  Most  Gracious  Majesty's  representative  in  Ireland.  The 
temples  of  Themis  were  closed,  and  so  were  the  fanes  of  Diana ! 
Hunting  is,  as  a  rule,  most  Conservative  in  its  politics.  Take  any 
field  in  England,  and  you  will  find  a  great  majority,  if  red  in 
habit,  most  blue  of  instinct.  And  yet  the  Liberals  have  a  most 
decided  supremacy  in  the  knot  of  statesmen  whom  our  Imperial 
sister  has  sent  over  to  guide  us  in  the  paths  of  equity  and  justice. 
Against  Lord  Spencer,  Lord  Hartington,  and  Mr.  Horsman  I  do 
not  think  the  Tories  can  name  a  single  name  of  Irish  hunting 
eminence  beyond  Sir  Michael  Hicks  Beach,  our  present  Secretary. 
To  be  sure,  one  or  two  of  the  dailies  here,  with  effusive  loyalty 
overshadowing  accuracy,  made  the  Duke  of  Abercorn,  our  recent 
Lieutenant,  a  Nimrod.  In  spirit  he  may  have  been,  in  heart  I 
believe  he  was  one  assuredly,  but  he  never  gained  the  accolade  in 
Irish  hunting  fields.  His  sporting  fame  was  won  on  a  different 
arena. 

"What  shall  my  song  be  to-night,  and  the  strain  at  your 
bidding  shall  flow  ? "  sang  the  young  lady  at  the  piano,  probably 
emphasizing  the  "your"  if  the  right  man  be  in  the  drawing-room. 
"  Where  shall  my  meet  be  to-morrow  ?  "  was  my  paraphrase  of 
the  melody  on  Tuesday,  and  if  not  exactly  of  mine,  no  doubt  it 
was  that  of  many  vacillators  and  undecided  in  the  metropolis  of 
Ireland.  I  had  made  arrangements  for  visiting  the  Kildare 
hounds  on  Wednesday  myself,  so  I  will  speak  presently  of  what 
I  saw  in  that  county ;  but  the  Meath  hounds  were  at  Larracor, 
very  accessible  to  pursuers  in  Dublin  by  railway  to  Trim ;  and 
on  the  whole,  I  think  I  should  give  the  preference  to  the  average 
chances  of  sport  from  Larracor  than  from  the  coverts  within  reach 
of  the  eighteen  mile-stone  fixture,  if  for  no  other  reason  than  that 
the  field  in  the  former  would  be  considerably  less  than  half  that 
to  be  counted  upon  at  the  latter,  which  generally  brings  an  army 
from  Dublin,  a  legion  from  the  Curragh  and  Newbridge,  besides 
pursuers  from  the  Queen's  County,  Carlow,  and  it  may  be  from 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  253 

Kilkenny;  not  to  speak  of  the  very  large  numbers  whom  the 
hospitable  houses  within  a  radius  of  four  or  five  miles  of  Naas 
pour  forth  upon  the  thronged  cross-roads  at  this  very  famous  old 
fixture  !  I  think  rain  is  telling :  we  have  struggled  against  it,  we 
have  become  quasi  acclimatized  to  it ;  but  the  last  wetting,  the 
last  stable  misfortune,  has  the  same  effect  on  the  almost  weather- 
proof, water-proof  pursuer  that  the  ultimate  feather  has  on  the 
camel's  hump  in  the  oriental  apothegm.  The  meet  was  a  very 
small  one,  the  smallest,  I  think,  I  ever  saw  at  this  place  in  an 
experience  of  a  few  seasons.  From  before  nine  o'clock  a.m.,  a 
deluge  of  rain  set  in,  taking  the  place  of  frost  which  had  ruled 
during  the  night ;  a  strong  west  wind  drove  it  in,  and  the  whole 
westward  horizon  was  surcharged  with  water.  The  Dublin  divi- 
sion, who  came  by  rail  to  Sallins,  suffered  comparatively  little ; 
but  many  of  those  who  had  ridden  or  driven  long  distances  by 
road,  looked  externally  as  if  an  immersion  or  two  in  brook  or 
ditch  could  affect  the  condition  of  their  clothes  very  little.  Under 
these  circumstances  it  was  not  surprising  to  see  good  men  and 
hard  men  turn  homewards  from  the  meeting-place,  or  when  near 
it,  for  it  did  not  look  like  sport  in  a  very  enjoyable  form.  And 
yet  I  fancied,  seeing  the  weather  they  encountered  last  Monday, 
that  a  few  Ward  Union  men  would  have  shown  at  the  meet,  for 
they  are  once  more,  as  somebody  remarked,  "  sus.  per  plu.? 
which  is  a  sort  of  apothecary's  Latin  abbreviation  for  "  stopped  by 
rain,"  their  country  being  under  the  dominion  of  flood.  They 
were,  however,  conspicuously  absent.  Dublin  sent  a  strong 
detachment  of  her  Garrison  and  Staff;  among  them  Major  Gore, 
Captains  Bloomfield  and  Mills,  and  Mr.  Thompson,  of  the  Innis- 
killings,  Captains  Colthurst  and  Crosbie  and  Lord  Clanmorris,  of 
the  Staff.  Lord  Oranmore  and  Captain  Lascelles,  too,  came  from 
the  metropolis.  The  Curragh  was  represented  by  Captains  Han- 
ning-Lee  and  Montmorency  of  the  Staff,  Captain  Middleton  of 
the  4th,  with  sundry  other  soldier  officers;  while  from  "  the  hall  "at 
the  Curragh  were  Mr.  Hubert  Moore  and  Miss  Moore,  Mr.  Garrett 


254  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Moore,  Mr.  Beasly,  etc.  Sir  Erasmus  Borrowes,  who  has  not 
been  hunting  so  much  this  season  as  usual,  was  on  a  good-looking, 
lengthy  son  of  Canary's,  a  high-class-looking  hunter  all  over. 
Mr.  Dyke  was  a  visitor  from  Cumberland,  Mr.  Adair  and  Mr. 
Skeffington  Smyth  came  from  the  Queen's  County ;  Kildare 
showed  in  smaller  force  than  usual.  Everything  looked  draggled 
and  soaked.  Those  in  Cording's  complete  armour  seemed  about 
the  happiest,  the  hounds  being  huddled  into  a  sort  of  ball,  so 
that  you  could  hardly  guess  that  there  were  eighteen  couples  by 
the  door  of  the  little  "  pub  "  at  the  cross-road.  With  this  attempt 
at  describing  our  surrounding  discomforts  let  me  dismiss  the 
preliminary  business.  Mr.  Mansfield  trotted  us  on  sharply 
enough  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour,  and  then  on  either  side  of  the 
road  we  have  a  long  bit  of  narrow  woodland ;  this  is  Dunstown 
Wood.  The  hounds  had  not  been  five  minutes  exploring  the  left 
side  of  the  hollow-looking  covert — which  has  been  very  prodigal 
of  its  fox  blood — when  a  find  was  announced.  A  miry  lane  leads 
across  it,  and  we  are  in  this,  thinking  our  fox  is  bound  for  Stone- 
brook  ;  but  a  sharp  turn  has  led  him  to  the  corner  of  the  wood, 
and,  if  he  meant  Stonebrook  at  first,  he  now  means  it  no  longer. 
Outside  is  a  wide  extent  of  commonage,  intersected  by  some 
drains  and  small  brooks,  where  on  a  fine  lark -provoking  day  you 
would  be  sure  to  see  much  schooling  and  "fancy"  jumping. 
This  is  not  a  day  for  anything  of  the  kind.  Hounds  are  running 
fast,  and  there  are  gaps  and  bridges  over  everything  jumpable, 
so  on  we  go,  till  hounds  pause  at  the  far  side  of  the  common. 
On  it  is,  up  the  shoulder  of  Mullacash  Hill,  or  a  little  spur  of 
that  hill.  Across  the  road,  over  a  small  wall,  and  there  are  the 
hounds  all  gathered  together  round  a  sewer  where  foxes  are  very 
fond  of  taking  sanctuary  when  they  can.  Some  jump  back  into 
the  road,  those  near  the  sewer  are  galloping  on  fast.  The  fox 
has  tried  it,  but  finding  it  sealed  has  held  on.  Now  hounds  are 
racing  over  a  bit  of  spongy  bottom  land,  across  a  by-road,  and 
on  to  Mr.  Coffey's  farm.  Luckily,  here  there  is  another  pause, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  255 

or  the  tail  men  could  not  have  got  up.  The  track  is  now  by 
Mullaghboden  Lands,  leaving  a  most  tempting  covert  of  the 
Baron  de  Robeck's  unvisited  not  more  than  a  few  hundred  yards 
to  the  left.  Here  the  soft  ground  and  a  large  fence  emptied  a 
saddle  or  two.  Now  the  Ballymore  Eustace  road  is  crossed,  and 
we  get  into  sound,  hilly,  upland  grass,  though  some  of  the  banks 
are  still  lined  with  snow  drift.  Presently  we  cross  the  Rathmore 
or  Blessington  road,  and  work  on  over  a  fine  grass  farm  of  Mr. 
Flood's — hounds  begin  running  hard  once  more  ;  another  parallel 
road  is  passed,  and  we  are  in  the  lands  of  Barrettstown  Castle 
(Sir  E.  Borrowes's  residence).  Excelsior!  The  track  is  now 
rather  steep,  though  the  grass  land  rides  light  enough  here.  Soon 
we  are  on  the  verge  of  Russboro'  (Lord  Miltown's  park) ;  some 
of  us  now  get  hung  up  in  a  field,  protected  on  one  side  by  a  high 
rugged  bank,  on  the  other  by  wire.  The  line  meantime  leads  on 
towards  Glending,  crossing  -the  single  bit  of  plough  I  can  recollect 
in  the  day's  ride.  Scent  is  failing  and  flickering ;  the  hounds, 
I  think,  dragged  on  to  Russboro'.  Practically  the  run  concludes 
here,  and  it  was  really  very  good  and  animated  in  bits,  sur- 
prisingly good  and  sustained,  the  weather  and  the  storm  being 
considered.  Next  we  are  overlooking  Elverstown's  magnificent 
area  of  gorse,  of  which  a  portion  is  cut  down,  though,  to  my  eye, 
the  covert  still  looks  a  very  large  one.  A  reluctant  fox  refuses 
to  face  the  open.  Home  and  hot  water  now  occurs  to  most  men. 
Among  the  curiosities  of  the  day  was  a  veritable  twenty-seven- 
year  old  huntress,  as  fresh  as  a  kitten,  and  pulling  her  rider  hard 
on  those  steep  hills  where  some  of  the  young  ones  were  quite 
sobered.  I  find  I  was  in  error  about  the  sequel  of  Saturday  last 
with  the  Ward  Union  stag-hounds.  After  the  capture  of  the  first 
deer,  a  small  party,  with  Mr.  Turbitt,  went  to  look  for  the  outlyer 
I  referred  to  at  Kibrew,  found  him  by  the  fox-covert  there,  and 
ran  him  by  Reisk  Covert  and  Gallstown  House  to  the  Poor-house 
Gorse,  thence  by  Parsonstown  Manor  to  Crigmere  and  to  the 
Hatchet,  through  Jenkinstown  by  Colierstown  Covert  to  Mulhussey 


256  HIBERNIA    V EN  ATI C A. 

Gorse,  on  by  Mulhussey  Castle,  through  Messrs.  Chapman  and 
M'Cormick's  lands  to  Moyglare  (Captain  Tuthill's  park),  till  he 
took  refuge  under  the  bridge  of  Moyglare,  when  the  capture  was 
safely  effected  at  5.30  p.m.  (he  was  found  at  3.35);  hounds, 
I  hear,  had  much  the  best  of  the  long  chase,  some  of  which  must 
have  been  ridden  by  moonlight. 

Sport  in  Meath  has  not  been  good  this  week  by  all  accounts. 
On  that  fearful  Wednesday,  when  the  Kildare  hounds  rendez- 
voused at  the  eighteen  milestone,  the  Meath  pack  met  at  Larracor, 
but,  owing  to  the  storm,  did  not  find  till  they  got  (rather  late)  to 
Rahinstown  Gorse,  from  which  they  had  a  pleasant  thirty-five 
minutes  by  Rathmolyon  and  the  Bullring,  over  a  tolerably  good 
line  of  country  for  the  district 

On  Friday  the  Duke  and  Duchess  of  Marlborough  held  what 
I  may  call  a  hunting  levee  at  Abbotstown,  the  spacious  park  of 
Mr.  Ion  Trant  Hamilton,  one  of  the  county  members.  No  fairer 
frame  could  have  been  selected  for  a  really  beautiful  and  imposing 
pageant  The  Court  looked  very  courtly;  his  grace's  equipages 
were  admirably  turned  out ;  there  was  a  most  imposing  display  of 
beauty  most  beautifully  adorned.  Dublin,  civil,  military,  pro- 
fessional, and  commercial  formed  a  grand  gallery  for  the  raree 
show ;  luckily  the  overcast  forenoon  spared  the  glory  of  toilettes, 
the  pride  of  Purple  and  Propert,  the  sheen  of  Hoby  and  Clarke. 
An  hour  or  two  afterwards  there  was  a  tremendous  gush  of  rain, 
but  by  that  time  much  of  the  carriage  multitude  had  gone  home  to 
luncheon,  etc.  A  short  ineffective  run  from  Kilrue  Gorse,  which 
introduced  us  to  very  large  fencing,  was  all  of  sport.  The 
tempestuous  day  produced  a  fatal  accident  to  one  of  the  best 
sportsmen  in  Ireland,  Mr.  Nicholas  Archdale,  whom  I  saw  going 
— not  once,  but  always — admirably  on  his  grey  hunter,  and  made 
it  a  very  melancholy  one  for  numbers. 

I  believe  it  is  not  premature  to  announce  Mr.  W.  Forbes's 
succession  to  the  vacant  mastership  of  the  itildare  hounds.  That 
he  has  accepted  the  horn  positively  and  finally  I  am  not  prepared 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  257 

to  state ;  but  that  the  conference  of  the  Kildare  chiefs  will  end 
like  the  miserable  fiasco  \ve  have  recently  sickened  over  in  the 
Orient,  I  do  not  believe,  as  I  feel  assured  that  the  county  of 
Kildare  will  be  too  glad  to  meet  the  proposals  and  conditions 
which  Mr.  Forbes  makes  on  his  part.  A  very  humble  unit  in  the 
hunt,  I  think  it  is  to  be  congratulated  very  much  on  the  happy 
combination  of  circumstances  which  secure  so  very  promising 
a  president  No  M.F.H.  can  guarantee  sport  to  a  country;  but, 
as  the  Patrician  said  to  Sempronius,  "  he  can  deserve  it."  This  I 
am  quite  sure  Mr.  Forbes  will  do,  and  it  will  be  very  hard  luck 
indeed  if,  when  immense  energy  (perfervidum  Scotomm  tngeniuni), 
great  experience,  and  a  most  intimate  acquaintance  with  the 
unwritten  laws,  maxims,  and  cabala  of  hunting  are  added  to 
entire  devotion  to  the  noble  science,  good  results  do  not  follow. 
Eighteen  or  twenty  years  ago  Mr.  Forbes  was  attracted  to  Kildare 
and  its  hunting  grounds;  he  has  been  most  staunch  and  un- 
wavering in  his  allegiance  ever  since.  Hence,  though  I  do  not 
think  he  has  a  patent  of  naturalization,  he  is,  by  popular  vote  and 
feeling,  a  Kildare  man ;  no  man  in  Ireland  or  England  has  been 
a  better  patron  of  sport  legitimate,  undefiled  by  gambling. 

The  Kildare  hounds  met  at  Courtown  Gate  on  Saturday,  the 
3rd,  and,  as  usual,  the  meeting-place  was  choke  full,  as  well  as 
the  avenues  leading  to  it  The  hounds,  thrown  into  the  planta- 
tions in  front  of  the  house,  found  instantaneously,  crossed  the 
road,  and  raced  for  Laragh.  Here,  or  just  beyond  it,  there  was 
a  check  of  some  moments,  and  then  the  chase  is  renewed  slowly 
and  fitfully  to  the  Maynooth  road,  at  which  point  it  ends,  so  far  as 
the  field  and  the  body  of  the  pack  are  concerned.  I  believe  what 
really  happened  was  in  this  wise:  The  find  was  so  quick  that 
many  men  were  taken  by  surprise,  while  not  a  few  fell  at  a  drop 
fence  into  the  road  coming  out  of  the  Courtown  plantations. 
These  discomfited  men  got  somehow  (I  think  by  a  parallel  road, 
but  I  don't  want  to  libel  them  or  their  hunters)  to  Laragh  before 
the  field  or  even  the  pack.  At  the  check  I  referred  to  five  couple 

s 


258  H1BERNIA    VENATICA. 

of  hounds  hit  off  the  line  for  themselves,  and  ran  untidy  to  the 
road  ("  silence,"  you  know,  "  is  the  criterion  of  pace  "),  where 
a  small  body  under  the  banners  of  Captain  Ponsonby,  Mr.  F. 
Tynte,  and  Mr.  Bellany,  the  latter  on  his  capable  roan  horse,  took 
charge  of  them,  and  had  a  capital  run,  as  I  hear,  with  only 
a  single  dwell  by  Taghadoe  Gorse,  into  Cullen's  Covert.  Whether 
we  changed  foxes  or  not  in  the  last  gorse  I  cannot  say,  but  a  fox 
from  it  took  us  at  capital  pace  over  a  nice  line  into  Killadoon 
Lands,  where  scent  seemed  to  fail.  Castletown  Woods  did  not 
hold  a  fox. 

There  has  been  capital  sport  in  Kilkenny  lately,  from  Killeen, 
Ballykeefe,  Kilfane,  Summerhill,  and  Butler's  Wood,  while  the 
Curraghmore  continue  their  triumphs,  Kilcash  and  Early's  Gorse 
keeping  up  their  reputation  for  good  foxes.  I  regret  I  can  only 
refer  to  these  packs  just  now. 

P.S. — The  Meath  hounds  had  a  very  good  day's  sport  on 
Tuesday,  the  6th,  from  Somerville,  or  rather  Walshe's  Gorse  and 
Kilmoon  Sticks ;  while  Mr.  Preston's  harriers  (the  Bellinter)  gave 
a  select  field  a  most  enjoyable  hour  and  twenty-five  minutes, 
killing  a  very  tough  hare  after  a  most  sustained  chase,  which  led 
over  Walterstown,  Screen,  and  Tara  Lands.  By  all  accounts,  this 
was  a  very  fine  run  indeed. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  259 


XVIII. 
"  In  the  spring  a  fox's  fancy  lightly  turns  to  thoughts  of  love." 


Abbotstown  levte —  Mr.   Archdale's  fate — "Snow-Storm"  —  Kilkenny  and 
Queen's  County  sport — Philpotstown  and  Rathmore — West  Meath. 

I  MUST  perforce  hark  back  to  the  beginning  of  spring — if  spring 
really  begins  with  the  month  of  St.  Valentine — dear  to  the  young 
men  and  maidens  whose  thoughts  lightly  turn  to  thoughts  of  love, 
but  abhorred  by  the  polite  postman.  (Manners,  you  know,  make 
the  postman.)  Ventose,  pluviose,  but  not  venaticose,  if  one  may 
coin  such  a  term,  February  Filldyke  came  in  blustering  and 
gushing,  determined  not  to  leave  the  wild  work  of  January 
incomplete.  The  courtly  ceremonials  at  the  Castle,  a  first  levee 
and  drawing-room,  brought  quite  a  flock  of  M.F.H.'s  to  the 
metropolis  of  Ireland  to  pay  the  tribute  of  their  loyalty  and 
respect  to  her  Most  Gracious  Majesty's  representative  at  Dublin 
Castle ;  and  to  stimulate  their  zeal  in  this  direction  I  feel  inwardly 
assured  that  not  a  few  causes  gravitated  mightily.  Such  an  open 
season  was  perhaps  never  recollected,  nor  one  wherein  the  strain 
on  hunters  was  more  continuously  severe. 

"  Otium  divos  rogat  impotenti  prensus  yEgseo." 

"  The  M.F.H.  he  prays  for  frost, 

Because  his  nags  their  bloom  have  lost, 
And  all  his  stable  plans  are  cross'd." 

I  can  fancy  an  M.F.H.  under  these  painful  circumstances  sum- 
moning his  huntsman  and  stud-groom  to  his  study,  and  announc- 
ing his  intention  of  visiting  the  capital  and  court  of  his  country 


26o  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

for  a  few  days.  I  can  conceive  the  pathetic  injunctions  to  his 
huntsman  during  his  absence  to  be  sparing  of,  and  tender  to,  the 
remaining  working  lot;  his  passing  a  sort  of  short  ad  interim 
Factory  Act  to  limit  the  working  hours  of  his  over-wrought 
establishment ;  his  careful  and  precise  directions  about  the  draw- 
ing of  the  coverts,  and  so  on.  To  be  sure,  all  huntsmen  have 
not  obeyed  Wolsey's  injunction  to  Cromwell,  "  fling  away  ambi- 
tion," and  opportunity  occasionally  will  dull  the  small  voice  of 
obedience;  so  I  expected  that  possibly  I  might  have  heard  of 
one  or  two  extraordinary  passages  of  hunting  history  during  this 
semi-interregnum,  but  none  have  reached  me  so  far.  Another 
potent  cause,  I  feel  assured,  to  drive  masters  Dublinwards  at  this 
particular  season  was  the  lady  vote — noto  quid  famina  possit. 
Dublin  doctors  are  celebrated,  and  country  dulness  and  damp 
beget  remittent  spirits,  to  which  only  a  course  of  medicine  and 
millinery  can  minister.  Add  to  all  these  inducements  the  great 
spring  meetings,  of  which  all  M.F.H.'s  nearly  are  ex-officio  pro- 
moters, and  forced  to  interest  themselves  in — throw  in  a  few 
Castle  balls  and  minor  private  dances — and  the  wonder  will  be, 
not  that  masters  of  hounds  ever  got  away  from  their  kennels  and 
countries,  but  that  they  were  able  to  return  so  quickly. 

It  would  not  be  fair,  I  think,  to  the  truth  of  hunting  chronicle 
to  pass  over  the  magnificent  hunting  function  which  took  place 
at  Abbotstown  on  Friday,  the  2nd  inst,  with  the  very  meagre 
comments  to  which  scanty  space  and  time  restricted  my  observa- 
tions last  week.  Hunting — fox-hunting  especially — is  many-sided, 
and  every  side  has  its  own  attraction  and  charms  for  its  votaries, 
just  as,  with  changing  light,  every  facet  in  a  well-cut  diamond 
sparkles  and  coruscates  in  turn.  There  is  the  sanguinary  hunts- 
man who  thinks  only  of  killing  his  foxes  ;  there  is  the  less  blood- 
thirsty hunt  servant,  whose  zeal  fluctuates  between  the  joy  of 
pursuit  and  the  ultimate  triumph ;  there  is  the  master,  whose 
anxious  mind  has  to  dwell  upon  a  thousand  subjects  in  the  course 
of  the  twenty-four  hours,  who  has  to  be  a  little  of  all  things  to 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  261 

all  men  and  all  women;  there  is  the  master  who  is  a  very  Gallic 
to  all  minor  matters  so  long  as  he  can  show  sport,  and  who  lives, 
moves,  and  has  his  being  for  this  aim  and  object ;  there  is  the 
master  who — simplex  munditiis — abjures  the  pomp  and  vanities 
of  hunting  pageantry,  who  looks  with  an  angry  eye  at  crowds 
of  carriages  and  hacks  flocking  to  his  meets,  and  occasionally 
arranges  his  fixtures  rather  with  a  view  to  the  discomfiture  of 
this  element.  The  master  of  the  Royal  Meath  hounds,  be  his 
idiosyncracy  what  it  will,  has  no  option  in  the  matter,  or  scarcely 
any.  Certain  grooves  and  traditions  bind  him  fast  in  invisible 
but  very  sensible  chains,  and  one  of  these  is  that  on  certain  high 
days  he  must  bring  his  hounds  to  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
metropolis,  timing  his  fixture  so  as  to  fall  in  with  the  dates  of 
drawing-rooms  or  court  balls  at  the  Castle,  and  that  for  a  certain 
space  of  time  he  must  manoeuvre  them  before  an  immense 
audience  or  gallery  composed  of  elements  the  most  heterogeneous 
and  incongruous.  I  suppose  it  is  right  that  it  should  be  so. 
Hunting  lives  in  the  affection  of  all  classes  ;  so  it  must  be  made 
generally  popular  and  pleasing.  The  spectacular,  gossiping, 
coffee-housing,  pomp-and-pageantry  side  must  have  its  innings 
occasionally.  Luckily,  it  is  seldom  a  long  one ;  and,  most 
fortunately  for  Meath,  the  same  day  often  combines  the  morning 
pomp  and  parade  of  fine  clothes  and  bravery  of  glorious  apparel 
with  real  genuine  sport  in  the  afternoon  or  evening.  It  was  not 
the  case  on  the  day  I  am  now  noticing.  Last  season  it  was  quite 
usual,  and  considered  a  matter  of  course.  The  old  saw  tells  us 
that  "a  rainbow  at  night  is  the  shepherd's  delight,  a  rainbow  in  the 
morning  is  the  shepherd's  warning ; "  and  such  a  bow  spanned 
the  heavens  magnificently  as  I  rode  into  Abbotstown  on  Friday 
morning.  A  slight  shower  came  down,  and  then  everything 
looked  fairly  serene  in  Mr.  Hamilton's  fine  park,  where  undulating 
grounds,  large  grassy  spaces,  fine  old  timber,  and  a  system  of 
springs  and  rivulets  make  a  very  pleasant  and  picturesque  scene. 
There  is  a  large  space  in  front  of  the  house,  and  presently  it  is 


262  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

occupied  by  the  outriders  of  the  viceregal  carriage,  followed  by 
the  equipages  of  the  Castle  party,  which  includes  the  Duke  and 
Duchess  of  Marlborough,  Lord  and  Lady  Antrim,  Lord  R. 
Churchill,  Lady  Rosamond  Churchill,  Captain  Kearney,  Lord 
Clanmorris,  Captain  M'Calmont,  Captain  Colthurst,  A.D.C.,  and 
Colonel  Frank  Forster,  Master  of  the  Horse. 

A  short  distance  off  is  the  coach  of  the  Inniskillings,  driven 
by  Captain  Heaviside.  Innumerable  carriages  are  Avandering 
about  through  the  park,  among  the  smartest  of  which  are  Mrs. 
Bagot's  and  Mr.  Rose's.  Abbotstown  is  not  more  than  four 
miles  from  Dublin  ;  so  the  Garrison  in  all  its  arms  is  there  in  great 
force.  Kildare  sends  Lord  Cloncurry,  the  Hon.  E.  Lawless, 
Mr.  Forbes,  General  Invin,  Captain  Saunders,  and  some  others 
to  represent  her  in  the  tournament.  The  morning  is  overcast, 
but  warm  withal,  so  there  is  a  capital  opportunity  for  lounging 
about  among  the  Watteau-like  groups  of  horse  and  carriage 
people — a  very  mixed  multitude,  civil,  military,  professional, 
commercial,  histrionic.  It  is  a  conversazione  al  fresco  and  ci 
cheval  for  half  an  hour,  seeing  that  the  train  which  brought  the 
master,  his  hounds,  and  staff  up  to  Dunboyne  from  Navan  is  late 
by  that  precise  measure  of  time.  Mr.  Morrogh,  the  master  of 
the  Ward  Union  hounds,  receives  a  perfect  ovation  on  his  re- 
appearance in  public,  driving  his  phaeton,  after  his  severe  accident 
— a  broken  leg — some  seven  or  eight  weeks  ago. 

But  here  come  the  pack  at  last !  The  woods  of  Abbotstown 
are  drawn  pro  forma  (no  fox  could  be  expected  to  await  his 
enemies  so  patiently  while  the  coast  was  clear).  Nothing  is 
found,  and  presently  the  huge  train,  brilliant  in  colouring,  moves 
along,  churning  the  rotten  roads  into  mud-butter,  till  we  pull  up 
at  Holywood  Rath,  Mr.  Thompson's  residence,  nearly  always  a 
sure  find ;  and  here  fresh  accessions  to  our  numbers  arrive, 
among  them  Lord  Langford,  Lord  A.  Lennox,  the  Hon.  Mr. 
Harbord,  Lord  Rossmore,  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy.  The  place 
is  foxless  to-day,  but  a  hard-riding  dragoon  makes  a  little  bit  of 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  263 

amusement  for  the  spectators  by  a  water  jump  mangu^  where  his 
horse,  a  candidate  for  cross-country  honours,  is  immersed  for  a 
considerable  time.  The  next  stage  is  to  Ballymacarney  Gorse, 
where  a  fox  was  proclaimed,  chez  lui  very  soon,  but  a  fierce  rain 
and  wind  storm  now  came  on  with  almost  blinding  violence ; 
and,  whether  the  fox  got  headed  when  he  broke,  as  he  did  several 
times,  or  the  weather  daunted  him,  I  cannot  say.  Certain  it  is 
that  Mr.  Waller,  anxious  to  give  us  a  gallop  as  quickly  as  he 
could  to  warm  and  dry  us,  led  us  on  to  Kilrue  Gorse,  leaving  the 
sulky  vulp  master  of  the  covert  pro  tern.  There  must  have  been 
a  fine  house  at  Kilrue  at  one  time.  A  long  causeway  leads  to  it ; 
there  are  extensive  ruins,  and  round  them  for  a  considerable 
space  runs  an  old  moat,  rather  wide,  with  the  masonry  still 
complete.  The  gorse  is  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  from  these 
ruins.  A  very  quick  find,  a  bold  start  almost  in  the  teeth  of  a 
gale,  some  very  large  fencing,  hounds  flashing  over  the  scent,  the 
fox  forced  back  to  sink  the  wind  and  scurry  back  to  the  gorse, 
some  grief,  more  very  large  jumping — this  was  the  first  stage  of 
our  attempt  at  sport.  It  was  followed  by  a  second  expulsion 
from  the  covert,  a  slow  run  over  a  succession  of  charming  fences, 
with  a  brook  or  two,  the  direction  being  towards  Ashbourne ; 
and  then  the  clue  is  hopelessly  lost  or  blown  away.  I  said  there 
was  very  large  jumping — nothing  sensational,  no  single  obstacle 
to  go  and  look  at  afterwards,  but  every  fence  very  wide,  and  one 
double  which  I  saw  a  couple  of  men  do,  led  by  an  officer  of  the 
3rd  Dragoons,  was  passing  big.  The  Hon.  Harry  Bourke, 
mounted  on  The  Lord-in-Waiting,  showed  us  the  way  over  a 
yawner  or  two,  where  a  bold  leader  was  a  blessing.  Where  poor 
Mr.  Archdale  met  his  accident,  I  cannot  say.  I  had  been  noticing 
the  very  fine  fencing  of  his  grey  hunter  a  few  minutes  before,  and 
in  his  resolute  good  hands  such  a  catastrophe  was  the  last  thing 
I  anticipated. 

"  Quod  quisque  vitet  nusquam  homini  satis 

Cautum  est  in  horas.     Navita  Bosporum 

Poenus  perhorrescit,  neque  ultra 

Qeca  timet  aliunde  fata." 


264        .  HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI  C A. 

I  feel  I  have  not  done  justice  to  the  very  splendid  spectacle 
at  Abbotstown;  space  and  time  forbid  my  enlarging  on  it.  It 
combined  something  of  a  cross  between  a  high-class  English  meet 
— say  at  Cottesbrook,  after  the  Northampton  meeting — and  one 
or  two  features  of  Ascot.  The  show  of  horseflesh  in  the  park 
was  very  fine,  and  alone  well  worth  going  to  see.  I  cannot  notice 
the  hacks  or  hunters  seriatim  now,  but  a  brown  cob  under  Mr. 
Richard  Walshe's  welter-weight  (Lady  Patricia's  owner)  looked  as 
if  he  would  win  ribands  in  the  show-yard  as  well  as  give  his  rider 
some  hunting. 

Saturday,  the  3rd  inst.,  was  ushered  in  by  snow  and  sleet, 
which,  of  course,  turned  to  the  irrepressible  rain  during  the 
course  of  the  day.  The  temperature  was  very  low,  and  there 
was  a  sting  and  bite  in  the  wind,  which  every  now  and  then  proves 
the  precursor  of  tremendous  scent.  The  Kildare  hounds  were  at 
a  very  favourite  rendezvous,  Courtown  Gate,  and  the  weather 
desagremcns ;  notwithstanding,  there  was  a  full  and  fashionable 
meet  at  the  entrance  to  Captain  Davis's  park.  Meath  mustered 
strong  there ;  among  the  visitors  thence  being  Mr.  A.  M'Neil, 
Lord  Langford,  Lord  Rossmore,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs. 
Candy,  Mr.  Dunne,  Captain  Tuthill,  Lord  A.  Lennox,  the  Messrs. 
Carew,  Mr.  Rynd,  the  Messrs.  Purdon,  Mr.  M'Gerr.  Dublin  sent 
Lord  Oranmore,  Mr.  Hone,  Colonel  Frank  Forster,  Captains 
Colthurst  and  M'Calmont;  the  Queen's  County,  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Adair. 

The  Courtown  foxes  have  become  a  by-word  for  stoutness  and 
pace  this  season  ;  one  was  killed  after  a  fine  run  to  Donadea 
Castle,  Sir  Gerald  Aylmer's  park,  six  or  seven  weeks  ago ;  a 
second  has  beaten  the  hounds  after  a  quick  scurry  several  times. 
But  after  such  a  night,  and  looking  to  the  hollowness  of  the 
plantations,  few,  I  fancy,  felt  much  faith  in  a  Courtown  find  this 
morning.  Preservation  and  feeding  will,  however,  do  wonders, 
and  this  day  illustrates  the  theme.  No  sooner  were  the  pack  put 
into  the  belt  of  timber  opposite  the  house  of  Courtown  than  they 


HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI C A.  265 

found ;  the  fox  did  not  dwell  a  second,  but  raced  away  across  the 
Kilcock  road,  making  his  point  for  Laragh.  Two  fences  now 
intervene  between  the  field  and  the  area  of  the  chase — one  into 
the  plantation ;  another  out  of  it,  a  drop  into  the  road  I  men- 
tioned. Freeman,  the  huntsman,  and  some  more,  got  falls  at  the 
latter  impediment,  I  believe.  For  my  own  part,  having  missed 
my  hunter,  who  was  sheltering  somewhere,  I  was  fain  to  canter 
back  to  a  road  which  I  hoped  would  prove  parallel  to  part  of  the 
pursuit. 

"  Suave  mari  magno  turbantibus  rcquore  ventis 
E  terra  alterius  magnum  spectare  laborem." 

"  Sweet  from  the  shore,  when  billows  roar, 
To  view  at  ease  the  straining  oar. " 

I  had  no  Larah  Brook  before  me  now,  no  other  big  obstacle. 
How  courageous  and  critical  one  gets  on  such  occasions  !  It 
was  a  hard-riding  lot  of  men  as  a  rule,  reckless  of  water — their 
motto,  "  Be  with  them,  I  will."  If  a  few  thought  of  rheumatism, 
or  that  they  were  not  on  their  water-jumpers,  or  that  the  brook 
was  full  of  snow  and  sleet  water,  I  respect  their  caution.  I  saw 
no  immersions  as  on  the  last  occasion;  but  the  pack  have  checked 
suddenly.  Three  minutes!  five!  what  can  it  be?  and  when 
they  go  on  again,  led  by  Crystal,  there  does  not  seem  much  dash 
about  them.  Here  they  come  :  Major  Dent,  on  his  grey,  jumps 
first  over  a  bank  into  the  Maynooth  road ;  then  come  Mr.  Percy 
La  Touche  and  Lord  Langford,  and  some  fifteen  or  twenty  soon 
after.  At  the  road  hounds  seemed  utterly  helpless.  The  facts 
we  learned  afterwards :  five  couples  of  hounds  had  slipped  the 
body  of  the  pack,  had  been  met  on  this  very  road  by  a  few 
pursuers  who  were  "out  of  it,"  and  taken  on  straight  after  the 
hunted  fox  into  Cullen's  Gorse,  some  three  miles  distant.  This 
they  did,  I  am  told,  with  only  a  single  check.  Meanwhile,  we 
held  on  through  Taghadoe  after  them,  and  the  divisions  of  our 
army  were  reunited  at  Cullen's  Gorse.  From  this  we  expelled  a 


266  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

fox — let  us  suppose  him  our  hunted  one,  for  it  will  give  more 
interest  to  the  narrative.  He  set  his  mask  first  in  the  Straffan 
direction,  but  the  breeze  was  against  that  move ;  so  he  doubled 
back,  crossed  the  sort  of  fosse  road  by  which  we  usually  approach 
the  gorse,  and  then  streamed  away  at  good  pace  over  a  wide  tract 
of  moory  land  which  has  been  reclaimed  from  bogdom  or  lake- 
dom  by  draining  off  the  surface  water  through  very  deep  cuttings. 
One  of  these  cuttings  now  interposes  itself — a  canal  in  width, 
with  high  embankments  of  mud  and  marl.  One  or  two  men, 
among  whom  were,  I  think,  Major  the  Hon.  E.  Lawless  and 
Mr.  W.  Blacker,  find  a  spot  where  they  can  jump  it.  Most  of  us 
forded  it,  our  horses  sliding  down  the  embankments  very  craftily. 
A  slight  check  as  we  rise  into  higher  ground — only  momentary, 
however — and  on  we  go  cheerily  enough  till  in  sight  of  a  school 
or  institution  for  orphans,  founded  by  the  Conolly  family. 
Another  check  occurs ;  then  come  a  road,  a  locked  gate — which 
has  to  be  forced — a  high  wall  for  the  hounds  to  climb ;  and  all 
this  gives  the  fox  a  great  lead.  We  are  now  in  small  fields ;  but 
the  hounds  work  the  fast-cooling  trail  admirably.  It  leads  into 
Killadoon,  Lord  Leitrim's  park.  Our  fox  has  beaten  us.  He 
was  a  very  good  one,  and  I  trust  he  may  return  safely  to  Cour- 
town.  The  day  was  one  of  grief  and  tumbling.  Will  Freeman 
led  off  with  a  brace  ;  Lord  Clonmell  followed  suit  with  the  same 
number.  Mr.  Allen  M'Donough  had  a  handsome  black  hunter 
of  much  value  killed.  Mr.  Blacker,  I  hear,  staked  one  of  his 
good  greys.*  Major  Dent's,  I  hope,  escaped  unscathed; 

"  For  o'er  the  dale, 
Or  o'er  the  vale, 
Or  on  the  mountain's  side, 
,  That  gallant  grey, 

Can  race  and  stay 
The  fleeting  pack  beside." 

*  Snow-Storm,  one  of  the  finest  hunters,  and  of  the  stoutest  in  Ireland,  died 
of  the  effects. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  267 

Castletown  did  not  hold  a  fox  this  evening.  Among  the  casualties 
of  the  season,  Mr.  Filgate  lost  two  good  hounds  lately  in  a  rail- 
way accident. 

The  hunting  annals  of  the  Kilkenny  hounds  may  be  thus 
epitomized.  Friday  last,  meeting  at  Ballykeefe,  they  found  in 
Killeen,  and  after  much  bullying  forced  their  fox  into  the  open, 
when  he  ran  very  fast  past  Pottle  Rath  to  Ballintaggart  Wood, 
where  he  got  to  ground.  From  Ballykeefe  they  had  an  evening 
run,  first  towards  Knocroe,  then  a  ring  by  Shipton.  On  Monday 
snow  impeded  proceedings  at  Cappana  cross-roads,  so  they  went 
to  Kilfane  (Sir  R.  Power's  park),  and  killed  a  fox  there  after  an 
hour's  work.  From  Summerhill  a  fox  broke  handsomely  over  the 
Thomastown  road  by  Ballylynch,  skirting  Mr.  Bryan's  gorse,  and 
eventually  getting  back  to  Summerhill,  where  hounds  were  stopped. 

On  Wednesday  they  were  at  Coolagh  cross-roads,  and  after 
some  desultory  hunting  from  Garryricken  they  went  to  Butler's 
Wood ;  and,  finding  there,  ran  a  fox  by  Nine-mile  House  and 
Mr.  Wall  Morris's  plantations  towards  Garryricken,  and  back 
again  to  Butler's  Wood,  where  he  just  beat  the  hounds  by  getting 
to  ground. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  are  hunting  again  !  On  Saturday, 
at  the  ninth  milestone  from  Dublin  on  the  northern  road,  they 
met  a  manageable  field,  and  had,  I  am  told,  very  good  sport, 
running  their  first  deer,  a  red  one,  as  far  as  Ardcath ;  while  the 
second,  a  fallow,  enlarged  on  Garristown  Hill,  took  them  back 
kennelwards  to  Old  Town.  On  Monday  Newbridge  held  out 
attractions  for  the  amateurs  of  lep-racing,  but  more  especially  the 
soldiers,  who  not  only  support  the  meeting  in  the  most  substantial 
way  by  hospitality  almost  sans  bornes,  but  by  entering  horses  and 
riding  freely  for  their  "pals"  and  the  public  also.  I  did  not 
visit  "  the  Cornet's  course,"  preferring  to  throw  in  my  lot  with  the 
Ward  Union  hounds  at  Batterstown  station,  where  the  assembly 
was  full  and  fashionable,  supplemented  by  a  good  many  visitors 
and  Meath  men,  among  whom  were  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs. 


268  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

Candy,  Captain  Trotter,  Captain  Lascelles,  Lord  Langford,  Mr. 
A.  Macneil,  Captain  Kearney,  Lord  A.  Lennox,  Mr.  White, 
Mr.  and  Miss  Coleridge,  Messrs.  Purdon,  Kelly,  M'Gerr,  Bayley, 
Waldron,  M'Cormick,  Grey,  Trotter,  Rafferty,  Gore,  Allen. 

The  first  deer  uncarted  was  a  red  one ;  the  scene  a  field  near 
the  Poor-house  at  Dunshaughlin.  From  this  point,  with  a  happy 
instinct,  she  turned  away  from  the  swamps  and  brooks  near 
Lagore,  and  made  a  pretty  straight  line  to  Parsonstown  Manor, 
through  which  she  ran  a  course  nearly  parallel  to  the  Meath 
railway.  Emerging  from  these  lands,  we  come  to  the  boundary 
fence — a  double  not  unlike  the  well-known  Punchestown  fence 
before  it  was  cut  down  to  more  pleasant  proportions.  There  is 
no  baulking  or  craning ;  some  forty  or  fifty  take  it  in  good 
hunting  style,  and  then  we  come  to  a  wide  "  fly  "  that  leads  into 
sound,  hard  grass  land — rather  a  treat  in  these  soppy  times  for 
our  hunters.  It  looks  like  a  beautiful  gallop,  when  an  ill-omened 
shaggy-haired  cur  turns  our  deer  almost  into  the  pack.  A  thick 
hedge,  however,  protects  her ;  the  hounds  stick  to  the  line  most 
truly,  and  now  we  are  recrossing  the  broad  double  I  referred  to, 
passing  once  more  through  Parsonstown  Manor.  And  now 
comes  the  celebrated  Bush  Farm,  with  its  Aylesbury-vale-like 
fields;  only  once  in,  we  have  to  get  out  The  obstacle  is  a 
narrow  ledge  of  bank,  made  of  recently  dried  mud  apparently, 
which  gives  horses'  hoofs  very  little  holding ;  beyond  it  a  very 
wide  ditch,  full  of  water  and  slime.  Some  found  better  spots 
than  others ;  the  earlier  adventurers  fared,  I  think,  best.  I  saw 
Messrs.  Meldon  and  Allen,  two  very  heavy  men,  on  the  right  side, 
having  had  very  little  of  a  scramble.  Lord  Langford's  horse  did 
it  very  cleverly ;  so  did  several  others ;  but  a  chestnut  horse  got 
thoroughly  imbedded  in  the  mud,  and  detained  his  rider  for  some 
minutes,  partly  under  him.  Pursuit  had  ceased  at  or  near  this 
point  by  the  capture  of  our  quarry,  who  ran  badly  after  the  little 
affair  with  the  yellow  cur  dog.  A  second  deer,  a  fallow  buck, 
enlarged  near  the  Ratoath  road,  gave  us  a  charming  gallop  over 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  269 

large  flying  fences  for  a  few  minutes,  till  the  Dublin  road  tempted 
him  to  exchange  hard  going  for  soft.  Of  his  capture,  the  how  or 
the  when,  I  cannot  speak.  A  Devonshire  lady  and  her  brother 
had  the  cream  of  the  run,  which  it  is  to  be  hoped  they  found  not 
inferior  to  the  cream  of  their  own  beautiful  land,  with  its  wild 
stag-hunting  and  wild  scenery. 

On  Tuesday,  the  6th  inst,  the  Meath  hounds  met  at  Somer- 
ville,  a  place  which,  with  the  surrounding  undulations  of  grass, 
I  have  in  previous  letters  attempted  to  place  before  the  readers 
of  The  Field.  I  have  no  doubt  the  fine  sunshine  of  the  morning 
gleamed  on  much  the  same  reaches  of  woodland  and  water  as 
when  I  visited  it  last ;  that  there  was  an  equally  gallant  and  hard- 
riding  field — beauty,  rank,  and  chivalry  all  combined  to  do  honour 
to  the  cause  of  hunting  in  general,  and  Meath  fox-hunting  in 
particular ;  that  Louth  sent,  as  usual,  a  hard-riding  division  to  the 
border  covert,  and  that  the  visitors  who  have  made  Navan  and 
various  other  points  in  Meath  their  head-quarters  were  there  to 
a  man  and  a  woman.  But  from  observation  I  cannot  speak,  as, 
in  the  first  place,  actuated  by  the  laudable  wish  to  save  a  hunter 
four  or  five  miles  of  a  long  road,  I  did  not  go  to  the  trysting- 
place ;  and,  if  I  must  go  into  personalities,  let  me  confess  that 
I  spent  a  few  unpleasant  moments  in  a  deep  dyke  partially  under 
my  hunter  yesterday,  and  that  the  process  of  extrication  by  most 
kind  friends  on  the  bank  was  worse  than  the  most  vigorous 
manipulation  of  the  swarthy  shampooer  at  the  Hammams  in 
Jermyn  Street,  and  one  most  hostile  to  early  rising,  which  a  meet 
something  under  a  score  of  miles  distant  involves. 

A  bad  practice  it  is,  that  trying  to  nick  in  with  hounds  in  the 
afternoon.  For  once  that  it  succeeds,  it  fails  ten  times ;  and,  if 
attempted,  it  should  be  done  most  cautiously,  if  you  wish  your 
relations  with  the  master  to  remain  cordial  and  friendly  as  ever. 
A  covert  should  not  be  approached  under  any  circumstances,  and 
even  a  considerable  margin  of  road  should  be  sacrificed  to  any 
little  ambition  to  secure  a  good  start  or  a  good  view  of  the  pro- 


270  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

ceedings.  I  am  happy  to  say  I  did  not  offend  in  this  respect 
to-day,  never  having  got  within  two  miles  of  the  hounds  ;  neither 
did  my  fellow-sinners — for  I  was  not  alone  in  breaking  the  canons. 
Having  waited  on  the  road  half  a  mile  or  so  from  a  gorse  which  is 
generally  visited  in  the  afternoon  of  a  Somerville  meet,  we  set 
forth  in  an  opposite  direction,  and  saw  a  number  of  very  cheerful- 
looking  sportsmen  returning  homewards,  all  very  well  pleased  with 
the  sport  which  the  day  had  brought  forth — no  dissentients,  no 
grumblers.  I  believe  the  day's  proceedings  were  somewhat  on 
this  wise :  Somerville  Woods  drawn  first ;  then  the  usual  visit  to 
the  neighbouring  Walshe's  Gorse — the  inevitable  find  of  probably 
the  selfsame  little  fox  so  well  known  for  the  last  season  or  two — 
the  gallop  over  the  now  familiar  line  to  Athcairne  Castle,  thence 
on  towards  Ardcath  Chapel  (pronounced  as  some  Cockneys  would 
"  hard  cash  "),  when  the  celebrity  among  foxes  worked  the  pack 
out  of  scent  or  got  to  ground.  I  hear  the  time  was  thirty-five 
minutes.  Kilmoon  Sticks,  known  also  as  Newtown  Covert — Mr. 
Reynell's  care — was  then  tried,  and  with  the  wonted  success  (it 
is  very  small  to  the  eye).  The  hounds,  starting  on  capital  terms 
with  their  fox,  drove  him  down  towards  Garristown  Hill,  when  he 
skirted  the  bog  at  the  foot,  and  worked  back  into  Newtown,  where 
I  believe  he  got  to  ground — twenty-five  minutes  I  hear  they  made 
it,  very  fast — and  over  a  good  sound  line ;  though  the  ground  in 
places  was  naturally  very  holding,  and  one  or  two  falls  of  course 
resulted,  as  horses  overdone  can  no  more  exert  due  leverage  to 
land  them  well  on  to  a  high  bank  than  a  ball-and-chain  prisoner 
could  execute  a  hornpipe.  Lord  Rossmore  got  an  ugly-looking 
one,  I  hear,  and  so  did  Mr.  Maher,  a  visitor ;  both,  however, 
escaped  well.  These  runs,  though  not  very  long,  were,  I  hear, 
very  satisfying,  and  there  were  no  demands  for  fresh  draws  and 
fresh  foxes.  The  day  was  glorious  up  to  three  or  four  o'clock  ; 
those  who  had  long  rides  home  had  the  customary  rain  accom- 
paniment to  beguile  the  way. 

The  tidings  from  the  United  Hunt  country  (Cork)  is  of  rain, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  271 

and  floods,  and  land  half  submerged.  On  the  2 6th  ult.,  I  hear, 
they  had  the  run  of  the  season  from  Carrignavar  (four  miles)  at 
top  speed,  quite  unchecked  till  their  quarry  got  to  ground  in 
a  sewer.  The  next  find  was  at  Temple  Michael,  from  which  they 
had  a  splendid  hunting  run  of  some  nine  miles  or  thereabouts, 
with  very  few  checks  in  its  extent,  Lord  Fermoy,  Captain  and 
Mr.  W.  Hunt  being  as  continuously  near  hounds,  by  all  accounts, 
as  most  men. 

I  am  in  arrear  in  my  notices  of  Louth  and  its  pack ;  but  the 
stormy  season  has  not  favoured  that  county  of  late.  On  the  3oth, 
meeting  at  Hilltown,  they  found  in  the  Nullah,  and  ran  a  fox 
through  the  demesne  to  ground  in  a  hole  at  the  top  of  the  main 
earths.  Finding  again  in  "  The  Carnes,"  they  forced  their  fox 
into  Hilltown,  round  it,  and  then,  facing  the  storm,  he  ran  by 
Percival's  (under  Winter-grass),  and  on  straight  into  the  Park  of 
Duleek,  when  a  burrow  saved  him  after  a  good  thirty-five  minutes. 
The  day  was  very  stormy,  which  may  account  for  their  not  finding 
again.  On  the  2nd  inst.,  finding  at  Churchtown,  and  getting  off 
on  good  terms  from  the  gorse,  they  pressed  their  fox  by  Prestons- 
town,  over  Newstone  and  Gallows  Hill  into  Clonbranton — twenty- 
five  minutes  up  to  this,  and  good ;  then  round  the  gorse  and  the 
bog  till  they  lost  him  in  a  turf-bank.  Another  fox  turned  up  at 
Rathory,  skirted  Knockabbey,  and  got  safely  into  Louth  Hall. 
Lisrenny  furnished  a  third  fox  and  lots  of  park-hunting. 

On  Saturday  last  the  Queen's  County  hounds  were  at  Cullohill. 
They  drew  Belmount  and  Whitewall  blank,  but  found  at  Harris- 
town,  and  the  fox,  breaking  at  the  Kyle  Hill  side  as  if  Rossmore 
were  his  aim,  suddenly  turned  and  ran  straight  up  wind  to  Lisduff 
(Lord  Castletown's  residence) ;  before  reaching  it — in  fact,  when 
within  two  hundred  yards  of  the  extensive  woods — they  rolled  him 
over  after  an  uninterrupted  forty-three  minutes,  the  last  part  being 
in  view.  Besides  his  regular  field,  Mr.  Stubber  had  a  good  many 
Kilkenny  men  out. 

On  Monday  the  pack  were  in  the  large  woodlands  of  Bally- 


272  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

kilcavan,  Sir  Allan  Walshe's  park ;  they  killed  one  fox,  ran  another 
to  ground,  and  had  a  good  deal  of  hunting  with  a  third,  but  scent 
was  far  from  serving. 

On  Wednesday  we  had  an  almost  total  cessation  of  rain  and 
storm ;  the  air  was  balmy,  the  clouds  were  high,  and  some  blue 
appeared  at  last  in  the  vault  of  heaven.  A  large  number  took 
advantage  of  the  bright  lull  in  the  elemental  war  to  meet  the 
Ward  Union  stag-hounds  at  Rathregan,  a  mile  or  two  distant  from 
Dunboyne  on  the  Trim  road.  Meath  and  Kildare  were  both  well 
represented.  Among  the  visitors  were  Lords  Langford,  Ross- 
more,  Lieut-Colonel  Forster,  Mr.  A.  Macneil,  Mr.  Trotter,  Mr. 
Howe,  Mr.  M'Gerr,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Mr.  and 
Miss  Hussey,  with  a  strong  detachment  of  officers  belonging  to 
the  Rifle  Brigade,  the  Inniskillings,  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards, 
and  Staff. 

The  enlargement  took  place  at  the  opposite  side  of  the  road 
from  the  Bush  Farm,  when  the  deer  ran  a  wide  loop,  crossed  the 
Ratoath  road  by  Wilkinstown,  ran  over  part  of  the  Fairy  House 
course,  then,  turning  in  the  direction  of  Lagore,  struck  out  to  the 
right  hand  between  Ratoath  and  Lagore,  jumped  into  a  by-road, 
which  he  used  for  a  short  distance ;  then,  sailing  over  those  wide 
grass  fields  which  bound  the  Reisk  fox  covert,  was  captured  not 
far  from  Kilbrew  stick  covert  at  a  place  known  as  the  Riggans.  It 
was  a  beautiful  line,  the  pace  good,  and  the  Seven  'miles'  gallop 
was  done  fast,  as  there  was  only  one  short  check  near  Ratoath. 
There  was  a  good  deal  of  grief,  but  no  serious  mourning,  save  on 
the  part  of  Mr.  D'Arcy,  who  had  the  misfortune  to  injure  a  very 
good  hunter  seriously,  if  not  fatally ;  a  rising  gentleman  jockey,  of 
recent  Newbridge  fame,  who  is  quite  the  Hope-Johnston  of  the 
Garrison  here,  was  also  the  falling  one,  for  he  was  down  three 
times,  I  think,  if  not  four;  a  noble  Guardsman,  who  goes  very 
hard  and  straight,  came  down  heavily  early  in  the  run.  A  second 
deer  was  ready  to  be  uncarted ;  but  there  was  a  lack  of  second 
horses  forthcoming,  and  the  first  had  generally  had  enough. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  273 

I  forget  whether  I  have  alluded  to  an  extraordinary  good  run 
which  Mr.  Preston's  harriers — the  Bellinter — gave  a  field  rather 
weeded  out  by  a  high  wall  last  Monday.  Without  entering  on 
townland  names,  we  may  state  that  it  began  at  the  Hill  of  Skryne, 
skirted  Ross  House,  wound  through  Tara  Hall,  passed  by 
Lismullen  (Sir  J.  Dillon's  park),  and  ended  at  Cabra — one  hour 
and  thirty-five  minutes  of  continuous  pace  almost  unchecked ;  and 
the  "  galloping  squire,"  on  Grand  Star,  was  conspicuous  in  front. 

I  hear  the  Curraghmore  hounds  had  a  capital  day  last  Friday 
from  Mount  Neil,  when  a  stout  fox  took  them  along  very  fast  by 
Ashgrove  to  Aglish,  near  which  village  he  got  to  ground,  after 
standing  up  for  fifty  minutes.  Carrigatubrid  furnished  two  foxes, 
who  ran  two  good  rings  in  turn,  and  one  was  killed. 

Those  who  went  to  Moore  Abbey  last  Tuesday  for  fox-hunting 
had  a  long  journey  for  nothing.  A  run  from  Moore  Abbey  is  a 
possibility,  not  a  probability — nor  are  the  neighbouring  coverts 
situated  in  the  happiest  of  hunting  grounds. 

Friday,  the  gth  instant,  was  ushered  in  by  frost,  to  which  suc- 
ceeded a  tolerably  dense  haze,  almost  amounting  to  fog,  between 
eight  and  ten  am.  The  roads  were  unusually  dry,  and,  if  one 
had  not  been  tempted  into  a  canter  along  some  inviting-looking 
sidings,  one  might  possibly  have  arrived  at  one's  destination  (a 
Meath  meet)  with  unsullied  tops ;  but  this  cantering  ground  soon 
dispelled  all  such  fond  illusions.  Squelch,  squelch !  spatter, 
spatter  !  There  is  a  pond  of  muddy  water  under  the  slight  veneer 
of  dry  mud  at  top,  and  very  soon  the  fair  spheres  of  Peel,  Thomas, 
or  Seadon  look  like  the  most  thickly  populated  stellar  region  in 
the  celestial  globe,  say  the  Milky  Way,  plus  a  few  comets  and 
planets  thrown  in. 


-incedis  per  undas 


Suppositas  cespiti  doloso." 

My  road  led  me  from  the  Dunboyne  neighbourhood  through  Dun- 
shaughlin,  past  the  historic  hill  of  Tara,  freighted  with  its  thousand 
traditions — ecclesiastical,  warlike,  and  political;  by  Lismullen, 


274  HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI C A. 

Bellihter,  and  Ardsallagh,  where  the  Boyne,  though  not  confined 
to  nature's  embankment,  had  sullenly  retired  from  the  valley 
which  he  had  occupied  for  a  long  time  with  his  encroaching  tide. 
Time  fails  me  now  to  speak  of  Bective  Abbey,  which  one  passes 
very  soon,  beautiful  in  its  ivied  ruins,  or,  indeed,  of  any  other 
points  of  interest.  In  a  few  miles  more  we  are  at  Meadstown 
cross-roads,  evidently  an  important  meet  in  popular  estimation, 
for  the  surrounding  roads  are  choke-full  of  carriages,  second 
horsemen,  cantering  hacks,  and  all  the  posse  of  an  extremely 
fashionable  meet.  And  the  morning's  assemblage,  so  far  as 
externals  and  properties  are  concerned,  would  not  discredit  Kirby 
Gate  or  Trouble  House — not  even  in  the  burden  of  leather  valises 
with  which  a  score  or  so  of  very  smart  pad-grooms  are  handi- 
capped. There  is  no  railway  or  station  near  by  to  overflow  into 
Meadstown.  The  Garrison  of  Dublin  were  conspicuously  absent. 
Of  the  Ward  Union  men  pur  et  simple  there  were  hardly  half-a- 
dozen  at  the  tryst,  including  the  Messrs.  Hone  and  Coppinger ;  so 
'tis  fair  to  suppose  that  the  intrinsic  attractions  of  the  fixture 
brought  these  crowds  here  to-day.  The  strangers  or  visitors  were 
not  numerous  ;  among  them  were  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs. 
Candy,  Lord  A.  Lennox,  the  Hon.  Harry  Bourke,  the  Hon.  Mr. 
Harbord.  Captain  Peter  Lowe,  Mr.  Waldron,  R.H.A.,  Mr. 
Dundas,  Captain  Macaulay,  Major  Irwin,  Captain  Kearney,  repre- 
sented the  viceregal  staff.  Meadstown  Gorse  is  very  silent  and 
secluded,  and  nearly  always  holds  a  fox  or  two ;  to-day  it  was 
empty.  The  next  visit  was  to  a  somewhat  similar  covert  a  mile 
or  two  distant,  Philpotstown.  Mrs.  Young,  the  proprietor  or  pro- 
prietress, lives  at  one  side  of  the  road,  in  a  very  pleasant-looking 
parklike  villa  (which  General  Wardlaw  occupied  as  a  hunting-box 
a  season  or  two  ago).  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Reynard  are  "  at  home  "  in  a 
gorse  a  quarter  of  a  mile  or  so  off  the  road  on  the  opposite  side. 
What  is  more  to  our  purpose,  our  fox  now  breaks  instantaneously. 
A  red  avalanche  passes  across  the  road  I  referred  to,  and,  jumping 
a  sunk  fence  in  the  lawn  of  Philpotstown  the  reverse  way  (I  did 


HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI  C A.  275 

not  see  a  refusal  or  mistake  at  it),  presses  hard  on  the  pack,  who 
flash  on  to  a  road,  and  there  ended  the  chase  in  pursuit  of  our 
first  fox,  which  began  most  promisingly.  We  are  now  trotting  to 
Churchtown,  another  never-failing  covert,  owned,  as  so  many  of 
the  best  in  this  part  of  Meath  are,  by  Mr.  Barnewell.  Those  who 
lingered  by  the  roadside  coffee-housing  or  gossiping — nay,  those 
who  were  not  very  keen  about  the  matter — lost  their  start,  and  in 
very  few  cases  ever  recovered  the  lost  distance.  A  small  bit  of 
wood,  well-lined  I  fancy,  is  all  I  could  see  of  a  fox  covert  here  ; 
but  in  a  moment  after  the  hounds  were  put  in  they  were  straining 
away  with  burning  scent  on  the  far  side.  It  is  a  race  now,  and  no 
slow  one ;  while,  to  make  the  unities  complete,  we  are  now  on  the 
Boyerstown  racecourse,  where  the  Meath  or  Navan  races  are  held 
with  much  eclat  every  spring — large  wide  fences  to  jump,  the  line 
all  grass,  but  holding  enough.  Such  is  our  path  of  pursuit ;  the 
fox  has  been  running  in  one  direction  and  for  one  point  for  the 
last  three  miles  or  so,  but  never  very  straight ;  and  now  he  bends 
by  the  Stand  House  to  the  left  hand,  and  jumps  into  the 
Navan  road.  A  donkey  cart  and  Mrs.  Jehu  scare  him  back,  and 
now  he  takes  us  along  to  the  verge  of  Navan,  then  crosses  the 
railway  track  near  a  sort  of  Danish  rath,  where  there  was  a  check 
of  five  or  six  minutes ;  then  his  course  and  ours  lies  parallel  to  the 
bed  of  the  river  Blackwater  till  he  meets  with  a  plantation  near 
Liscarton  Castle,  and  here  in  a  burrow  he  saved  himself.  The 
distance  is  estimated  at  about  seven  miles.  Up  to  the  first  and 
only  check,  it  was  twenty-five  minutes  of  good  galloping  for  those 
who  started  well  with  the  pack — of  hopeless  and  tumultuous 
pursuit  for  those  who  failed  to  do  so.  It  boots  not  now  to  tell  of 
the  leaders,  the  tumblers,  the  beaten,  the  baffled,  the  blown  (a 
lady  went  very  well) ;  for  we  are  now  pushing  on  to  Rathmore 
Gorse  (Lord  Darnley's) — which  gave  them  a  sharp  gallop  only 
yesterday  evening — towards  Allenstown.  A  bit  of  wild  un'nclosed 
gorse  is  tried  en  route,  with  the  result  of  a  quick  ring  which  emptied 
some  saddles.  Now  we  are  at  Rathmore  proper.  A  find  !  a  false 


276  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

start !  a  second  start,  and  all  is  well  if  we  can  get  over  the  first 
few  large  fences  and  hit  the  right  spots  in  them  !  A  road  crossed, 
and  then  we  wind  over  the  green  hill  of  Ward,  dip  down  a  little 
valley,  and  surmount  another  green  undulation,  Rathcarn  Hill. 
Meadstown  Covert  is  just  in  front  of  us,  and  the  fox  tries  it,  but  is 
forced  to  turn  from  it ;  and  now  he  is  racing  through  Kilbride, 
en  route  apparently  for  Tullaghnogue  or  Clifton  Lodge.  Whether 
he  was  pulled  down  by  the  hounds  or  baffled  them,  I  cannot  say. 
To  have  seen  something  of  four  chases,  and  trot  back  some  twenty 
miles  with  a  heavy  weight,  is  enough  for  what  they  call  the 
degenerate  hunter  of  modern  times.  These  hounds  had  a  good 
gallop  on  Monday  from  Headstown  towards  Aclare,  and  killed  a 
brace  from  Drewstown  yesterday. 

On  my  return  home  I  find  a  post  card  from  the  hon.  secretary 
of  the  Kildare  hunt,  inviting  me  to  a  meeting  to  consider  the  con- 
ditions on  which  Mr.  Forbes  proposes  to  take  the  management  of 
the  county  pack,  and  to  settle  the  preliminaries  of  the  annual  Red 
Coat  Race  and  Hunt  Ball. 

Alas  !  the  burden  of  conversation  to-day  was  generally  in  a 
sad  key — Mr.  Archdale  gone  from  us  just  a  week;  Captain 
Gubbins,  one  of  the  best  sportsmen  of  the  day  (who,  consenu 
farum,  did  more  than  receive  a  Victoria  Cross  in  the  harvest  of 
fame  his  gallantry  won  him  before  Sevastopol),  lies  grievously 
hurt,  and  almost  despaired  of,  by  a  fall  from  his  horse ;  and  now 
Mr.  A.  Macneil,  so  prominent  a  figure  in  the  pursuits  of  Meath, 
Kildare,  and  the  Ward  Union  packs,  has  just  met  with  a  serious 
accident  from  a  fall  also. 

H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught  is  hunting  the  fox  with  the 
Duhallow  hounds.  His  debut  was  unfortunate,  I  hear,  as  he  got 
kicked  by  a  lady's  horse  on  his  way  to  his  first  meet,  but  was  not 
much  hurt,  I  am  glad  to  say,  and  all  will  be  rejoiced  to  hear. 

On  Saturday,  owing  very  much  to  the  Castle  festivities,  the 
Kildare  hounds  had  an  enormous  meet  at  Straffan  Bridge,  while 
the  congregation  at  Kilrue  to  meet  the  Ward  Union  stag-hounds  is 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  277 

described  as  almost  equally  plethoric.  The  Kildare  hounds  did 
not  find  till  past  two  o'clock,  and  had  then  a  long,  slow,  hunting 
run  of  an  hour's  duration  from  Bellavilla  Gorse  to  Downing's 
Covert,  and  some  more  pottering  beyond  it.  The  line  lay  over  a 
series  of  small  inclosures,  so  there  was  a  great  deal  of  jumping 
and  tumbling,  and  all  the  fun  of  the  fair. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  ran  a  very  wide  semicircle,  begin- 
ning at  or  near  Kilrue,  and  ending  at  Maynooth ;  and,  as  the 
diameter  cannot  be  less  than  seven  miles, « the  length  of  the 
irregular  circumference  may  be  estimated  at  a  very  considerable 
mileage.  Indeed,  in  some  instances,  horses  did  not  reach  their 
stables  till  the  large,  if  not  the  largest  hours. 

As  a  specimen  of  the  caprice  and  uncertainty  of  scent,  I  may 
mention  that  on  Thursday  the  Meath  hounds  found  it  at  its 
highest,  specially  round  Drewstown.  On  Friday  I  thought  it  very 
good  in  Meath  also,  though  the  fact  of  the  hounds  starting  close  to 
these  foxes  on  each  occasion  may  have  had  much  to  say  to  its  power. 
In  Western  Meath,  on  the  same  day,  though,  foxes  abounded. 
At  Knockdrin,  Kilmaglish  Gorse,  the  Crooked  Wood,  and  Knock 
Ion,  the  driving  power  was  totally  wanting,  so  no  sport  ensued ; 
while  Mr.  George  Brooke's  harriers  had  perhaps  their  best  day 
this  season.  On  this  same  Friday  the  scene  of  their  pursuits — for 
they  killed  a  brace  of  hares — was  Cool  trim,  Newtown,  Hortlands, 
and  Cappagh,  to  some  of  which  places  I  have  introduced  your 
readers  many  times  and  oft,  in  writing  of  the  Kildare  fox-hounds 
and  their  pursuits. 

To  the  sport  in  the  Duhallow  country  last  week — when  the 
Convamore  party  included  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught, 
Captains  Fitzgerald  and  Colthurst,  Lord  Suffield,  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Adair,  and  the  Earl  of  Clonmell — I  can  only  make  a  passing 
allusion  now.  On  Wednesday  thirty-seven  minutes  without  a 
check,  and  crowned  by  a  kill ;  on  Thursday  a  pleasant  fifteen 
minutes  to  ground ;  on  Saturday  loyal  crowds  at  Mallow,  plenty 
of  foxes,  and  sport  moderate. 


278  HI  BERN  I  A    VENA  TIC  A. 


XIX. 

"The  best  of  all  ways 

To  lengthen  our  days, 
Is  to  steal  a  few  hours  from  the  night,  my  love  !  " 


Dancing  and  Dublin — Bellavilla  run — Venison  and  venerie — 
Duhallow  sport. 

' '  Nunc  pede  libero 
Pulsanda  tellus." 

LIKE  Belgium's  capital,  Dublin  gathered  together  on  Friday  night 
her  beauty  and  her  chivalry,  the  Amphitryons  being  the  Duke  and 
Duchess  of  Marlborough,  the  scene  of  the  Terpsichorean  festival 
the  Castle  in  Dublin.  Needless  to  say  that,  under  such  auspices, 
youth  and  pleasure  meeting  to  chase  with  flying  feet  the  happy 
hours,  Liddell's  band  discoursing  "  strains  that  could  create  a  soul 
under  the  ribs  of  death"  (to  use  Milton's  hyperbolical  diction, 
never  less  strained  perhaps  than  here),  young  men  and  maidens, 
dowagers  and  duennas,  had  what  our  cousins  d'outre  mer  call 
"a  good  old  time  of  it."  A  generation  or  two  ago,  no  doubt, 
they  understood  balls  and  suppers,  and  love-making  and  love- 
marring,  just  as  well  as  we  do  or  think  we  do  now.  But  the  next 
day,  or  rather  the  next  morning,  hung  heavier,  I  fancy,  than  it 
does  now  when  there  seems  a  universal  consensus  that  the  rightest 
and  properest  and  most  enjoyablest  thing  to  do  is  to  go  forth  and 
do  homage  at  the  nearest  shrine  of  Diana,  no  longer  of  the 
Ephesians,  but  the  Diana  Celtica  whose  cultus  was  never  more 
popular  than  in  this  decade,  whose  high  priests  were  never  more 


HIBERNIA    YEN  A  TIC  A.  279 

embarrassed  with  the  surging  crowds  of  fervid  votaries  and 
pilgrims  whose  zeal  lacks  no  devotion.  By  this  preamble  I  mean 
that,  after  the  Castle  ball  of  last  night,  there  was  a  very  general 
exodus  of  the  dancers  early  on  Saturday  in  quest  of  a  gallop, 
anywhere,  anywhere  out  of  the  smoke.  To  the  earlier  risers 
Straffan  Bridge,  the  fixture  of  the  Kildare  hounds  at  eleven 
o'clock,  presented  irresistible  attractions.  The  scenery  and  sur- 
roundings of  the  trysting-place  are  very  attractive.  Two  parks, 
well  timbered  and  rich  in  conifers  and  evergreens,  the  glory  of  our 
damp  climate,  extend  their  limits  to  the  well-known  bridge  which 
spans  one  of  the  longest  and  straightest  reaches  of  the  sinuous 
Liffey,  into  which  well-furnished  trees  dip  their  branches.  Straffan 
House  commands  some  charming  little  islets,  where  the  green 
of  the  laurel  and  the  crimson  of  the  dog-tree  contrast  well. 
Pulsanda  tcllus  !  No  longer  with  satin  shoe  or  dainty  brodequin, 
but  vicariously  with  the  iron-shod  hoofs  of  our  hunters.  Invitat 
genialis  hiems.  The  morning  has  been  rough  and  rainy ;  but  by 
eleven  o'clock  it  has  turned  to  a  warm  overcast  day  of  lights  and 
shadows — what  Beckford  calls  a  jour  de  dames,  when  the  eye  is 
brighter,  the  colour  heightened  by  animation  and  excitement,  and 
no  curdling  east  wind,  no  boisterous  blasts,  no  fierce  lights,  mar  the 
flush  of  beauty,  the  symmetry  of  hair,  hat,  and  habit,  or  make 
veils  and  yashmaks  necessary.  For  later  revellers  there  is  a  very 
convenient  meet  of  the  Ward  Union  hounds  at  1.15  p.m.,  at  one 
of  their  most  popular  fixtures,  very  accessible  from  the  metropolis 
by  road,  namely,  Kilrue.  Our  concern,  however,  is  not  with  them, 
but  with  the  Kildare  hounds  at  Straffan.  Somebody  told  me — 
a  man  with  a  look  of  experience  and  veracity  on  his  countenance 
— that  thirty-five  horse-boxes,  including  some  trucks  improvised 
into  boxes,  were  freighted  with  hunters  at  the  King's  Bridge 
terminus  (I  tell  the  tale  as  'twas  told  me,  but  vouch  not  for  the 
statistics),  and  that  the  soldier  officers  who  came  from  Dublin  to 
this  parade  of  mimic  warfare  numbered  fifty-five.  Again  let  me 
state  that  I  did  not  tell  the  tale  of  them — there  may  have  been 


28o  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

more,  there  may  have  been  less ;  but  I  am  sure  that  the  sons  of 
Mars,  as  the  penny  papers  call  them,  formed  a  very  large  corps, 
recruited  from  the  Inniskillings,  the  Rifle  Brigade,  the  Staff,  the 
yth  Fusiliers,  the  23rd,  and  I  know  not  how  many  other  sources, 
while  the  Curragh  and  Newbridge  sent  a  contingent  of  the  7th 
Dragoons,  led  by  Major  Dent  on  his  now  famous  grey  mare,  and 
Captain  Hanning-Lee  represented  the  Staff  of  the  Curragh.  The 
viceregal  party  comprised  Lord  and  Lady  Randolph  Churchill, 
escorted  by  a  very  full  staff,  among  whom  were  Lieut. -Colonel  F. 
Forster,  Lord  Clanmorris,  Captain  J.  M'Calmont,  Captain  Norris, 
Captain  Kearney,  Captain  Pratt  Saunders,  Captain  C.  Beresford. 

Having  spoken  of  the  sons  of  Mars,  I  suppose  I  may  take  up 
my  mythological  parable  and  say  something  of  the  daughters  of 
Venus,  who  formed  a  perfect  galaxy  at  the  meet,  and  who,  if  the 
syntax  code  be  generally  correct  that  "  the  masculine  is  more 
worthy  than  the  feminine,"  upset  pro  hac  vice  all  the  rales  and 
canons  of  grammar,  and  made  us  perhaps  very  bad  English 
scholars,  but  most  attentive  students  of  the  line  of  Irish  beauty. 
Time  would  fail  me  to  do  even  partial  justice  to  this  subject.  Let 
me  leave  much  to  the  imagination  of  the  reader,  merely  adding 
that  among  the  ladies  at  the  rendezvous  were  the  Ladies  Fitz- 
gerald, Lady  Randolph  Churchill,  Lady  Annette  La  Touche, 
Lady  Edith  Monck,  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Barton,  the  Hon.  Miss  Lawless, 
Lady  Alison,  Mrs.  Langrishe,  Mrs.  Davis,  Miss  Irwin,  the  Misses 
Beauman,  Miss  O'Kellyi  Miss  Aylmer,  Miss  Kirkpatrick,  Miss 
Tuthill,  Miss  Blacker.  Among  the  many  visitors  were  Lord  M. 
Fitzgerald,  Lord  Oranmore,  Lord  Rossmore,  Mr.  M.  Frewen, 
Mr.  Rose,  Captain  Saunders,  Captain  Fetherstone-H.,  Mr.  Chap- 
man, Mr.  Skeffington-Smyth,  the  Hon.  L.  White,  Captain  Graves 
Sawle,  Mr.  Power,  Mr.  Allan  M'Donough,  Captain  the  Hon.  T. 
Scott.  We  recognized  most  of  the  members  of  the  Kildare  hunt, 
with  the  exception  perhaps  of  Lord  Clonmell,  and  one  or  two 
men  who  are  hunting  with  the  Duhallow  hounds  from  Convamore 
(Lord  Listowel's  park). 


m 


THE     LADY    RANDOLPH    CHURCHILL. 


HIBERNIA    YEN  A  TIC  A.  281 

Enough  of  the  mise  en  scene.  Let  us  try  and  set  this  vast 
agglomeration  of  mounted  humanity  in  rapid  motion  if  we  can ; 
but  first  we  must  needs  find  the  great  motor — Monsieur  the  Fox. 
Without  his  presence  and  aroma  we  are  playing  at  Hamlet  sans 
the  prince  :  a  motley  company  of  Polonii,  Rosencrantzes,  Guilden- 
sterns,  and  Ophelias,  with  no  cue.  Now  Straffan  has  been  most 
liberal  of  foxes  this  year  ;  so  has  Lodge  Park,  its  vis-d-vis. 
To-day  we  explored  miles  of  plantation  and  screens,  including 
a  visit  to  the  New  Gorse,  Castle  Dillon,  without  effect,  finding  no 
"  sign  "  but  a  somewhat  stale  drag.  All  this  is  very  serious  to  the 
master  !  The  Kildare  men  feel  the  unuttered  remarks  of  the 
stranger  and  sojourner  within  their  hunting  gates.  Some,  full  of 
ride  and  thinking  the  glory  of  the  day  was  fairly  departed,  in  their 
idlesse  took  to  larking  over  such  fences  as  came  in  their  way. 
Better,  perhaps,  if  they  had  kept  that  jumping  power  in  reserve  ! 
Nous  verrons.  Presently  the  word  "  Bellavilla  "  struck  the  electric 
chain  by  which  we're  darkly  bound.  Some  read  it  "  Ballycaghan," 
and  read  it  with  joy.  The  former  was  the  truer  version,  and  now 
the  long  cortege,  reaching  considerably  over  a  mile,  is  set  in  motion 
for  Bellavilla  Gorse ;  and  fortunately,  as  'tis  four  or  five  miles 
distant,  our  track  lies  over  some  three  miles  of  turf,  no  gates  to 
open,  no  fences  to  jump,  most  of  it  good  if  heavy  galloping 
ground.  At  last  our  journeyings  are  over;  we  are  standing  at 
ease  by  Bellavilla  Gorse,  which  is  partially  cut  down,  but  which 
still  contains  a  vast  deal  of  covert  for  foxes.  For  my  own  part, 
I  do  not  love  Bellavilla  Gorse :  I  never  saw  a  really  good  run 
from  it.  The  country  round  it  is  not  good  or  pleasant.  The  Liffey 
forms  a  barrier  in  one  direction,  a  canal  in  another.  My  memory 
recalls  sundry  frigid  hours  when  we  vainly  hoped  a  fox  would 
break  from  its  recesses,  but  hounds  had  to  be  called  off  at  last. 
To-day  none  of  these  misadventures  befell  us :  in  five  minutes 
there  was  a  find;  in  ten  there  was  racing  and  chasing  over,  not 
Cannobie,  but  Longtown  Lea. 


282  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

"  Bad  luck  to  the  country  !  the  clock  had  struck  two  ; 
We  had  found  ne'er  a  fox  in  the  gorses  we  drew  ; 
When  each  heart  felt  a  thrill  at  the  sound  '  Gone  away  !' 
And  o'er  Longtown  demesne  we  are  all  making  play." 

Past  the  back  of  Mr.  Sweetman's  house,  through  the  shrubbery, 
on  to  the  lawn  before  the  house ;  but  here  some  evil  genius 
prompted  a  couple  of  dozen  of  us  or  so  to  essay  a  short  cut  to 
a  point.  It  would  be  a  great  short  cut,  '  tis  true ;  but  between 
peaty  drains,  trees,  and  I  know  not  how  many  more  impediments, 
few  got  well  over  and  into  the  open.  Lord  Rossmore  cleverly  got 
over  a  small  bit  of  dammed-up  water,  and  found  a  quick  exit; 
most  of  us  returned,  with  10  to  i  against  our  catching  the  pack, 
unless  luck  befriended  us.  And  luck  did  befriend  us,  though  we 
had  proved  ourselves  neither  brave  nor  wise,  only  foolishly  ven- 
turesome and  curious.  Galloping  first  over  the  lawn,  crossing 
a  road,  and  holding  on  up  a  lane,  the  pack  turned  to  us ;  for  the 
fox,  pointing  at  first  for  Mount  Armstrong,  or  peradventure  the 
nigher  Millicent,  had  turned  leftwards,  and  now  we  are  in  fairly 
rapid  pursuit,  till  we  come  to  some  ruins  of  what  must  once  have 
been  some  gentleman's  residence,  judging  by  the  timber;  and  here 
there  is  a  momentary  check.  Men  are  riding  hard,  the  country  is 
holding,  the  fences  are  ragged,  and  some  of  them  rather  large ; 
small  wonder  if  the  falling  sickness  soon  becomes  epidemic.  The 
hounds  have  now  worked  steadily  up  a  hill ;  they  are  running  again 
merrily  downwards  towards  a  village,  which  we  learn  is  called 
Prosperous  (on  the  lucus  principle,  of  course).  Mr.  Frewen  here 
has  a  lead,  and,  coming  to  a  gate,  pops  over  it  with  an  insouciance 
bred  of  recent  Leicestershire  experiences.  A  noble  lord,  who  has 
been  going  hard,  has  it  next,  but  comes  down  !  The  third  cracks 
the  top  rail !  Strangely  enough,  in  a  field  or  two  we  come  to 
a  quickset  hedge,  with  a  drop ;  at  one  end  of  it  there  is  a  quasi 
hog-backed  stile,  a  curiosity  in  Ireland,  which  one  man  selects  for 
himself,  and  does  neatly  enough.  Now  we  cross  the  Prosperous 
road,  and  for  a  mile  or  so  there  is  any  amount  of  jumping  for 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  283 

those  who  like  it,  while  the  hounds  are  steadily  picking  out  the 
cold  trail  through  plough  and  grass  and  small  inclosures.  Another 
road  crossed,  and  we  are  in  Mr.  Boyd's  lands — strongly  fenced 
and  very  grief-causing.  Three  ladies  are  riding  very  well  here — 
riding  well  and  very  well  carried — but  Miss  O'Kelly's  brown 
hunter  is  equal  to  any  country.  Soon  we  are  on  the  edge  of  a 
peat  moss,  sprinkled  with  gorse  brakes.  This  is  Downing's  Covert. 
The  fox  has  not  tarried  here,  though  he  has  run  through  it,  and 
the  hounds,  quite  by  themselves,  give  hound-lovers  a  treat  as  they 
hunt  over  the  bog,  noses  down,  till  they  emerge  on  to  the  upland, 
and  carry  the  line  along  for  another  half-mile;  but  our  fox  is 
possibly  in  the  Hill  of  Allen  by  this  time.  Our  start  was  good, 
but  in  the  small  inclosures  he  beat  the  hounds  easily.  An  hour's 
hunting,  jumping  and  tumbling  to  any  amount — it  has  not  been 
such  a  bad  day  after  all.  Mr.  Franks  got,  I  hear,  rather  a  nasty 
fall ;  so  did  the  Hon.  Mr.  Luke  White,  or  rather  his  horse  did. 
Lady  Randolph  Churchill's  horse  was  loose  once  at  least,  I  know. 
Her  ladyship's  early  experiences  of  Kildare  fences  were  rather 
trying,  but  she  got  over  the  country  most  successfully.  Among  the 
heavy  weights  Mr.  Chapman's  brown  hunter  and  a  four-year-old  of 
Mr.  Murphy's  (of  Hortlands)  distinguished  themselves  by  their 
jumping  capacity.  Lord  Maurice  Fitzgerald  was  also  very  well 
carried. 

On  Monday,  the  i2th,  a  special  from  the  Broadstone  terminus 
brought  down  a  good  number  of  men  and  horses  to  Drumree 
station  for  the  Ward  Union  meet  at  Culmullen  cross-roads.  Let 
me  state  en  parenthhe  that  Lord  Rossmore  and  Captain  and  Mrs. 
Candy  are  now  occupying  Culmullen  Lodge  as  a  hunting-box 
(Culmullen  Lodge,  so  well  known  when  it  was  the  habitat  of  poor 
"Rufus  Montgomery"),  so  it  is  needless  to  say  that  hospitality, 
hunting  hospitality  especially,  is  the  rule  of  the  house.  Besides 
the  soldiers  and  the  Ward  Union  men  from  Dublin,  a  good  many 
faces  one  associates  with  the  Meath  fox-hounds  were  at  the  trysting- 
place  to-day — among  them  Lord  Langford,  Lord  A.  Lennox,  Mr. 


284  HIBERNIA    VJENATICA. 

Trotter,  the  Hon.  Harry  Bourke,  Lord  Rossmore,  Mr.  A.  Nugent, 
Captain  Peter  Low,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Mr. 
M'Gerr,  Mr.  Rose,  Messrs.  Hone,  Butler,  and  Waldron,  etc.  The 
deer,  an  untried  novice,  was  uncarted — or,  let  me  say,  "  enlarged," 
for  it  sounds  prettier — in  a  large  field  near  the  house,  when, 
instead  of  taking  to  the  now  familiar  track  by  Cultromer,  Piper's 
Hill,  and  Batterstown,  she  skirted  Culmullen  offices,  and,  heading 
apparently  for  Woodtown,  turned  slightly,  and  ran  by  Beltrasna 
Gorse — actually,  I  believe,  going  through  a  bit  of  it.  Here  I  am 
told,  for  I  was  not  in  a  position  to  see  the  proceedings  myself, 
there  was  a  slight  dwell,  and  a  few  hounds  went  away  with  the  line 
in  front  of  the  pack.  One  hard-riding  man  thought  he  had  quite 
pack  enough,  and  galloped  on  with  this  two  couple.  Certain 
other  ambitious  spirits  set  all  sail  to  catch  their  leader.  The  great 
body  of  the  field  and  the  pack  were,  of  course,  condemned  to  a 
stern  chase,  and  a  far  slower  one  than  it  would  have  been  but  for 
these  contretemps.  From  Beltrasna  the  track  lay  over  a  splendid 
bit  of  country  by  Kilmore,  to  the  verge  of  Larch  Hill,  and  thence 
to  Garradice,  where  the  capture  was  effected.  The  deer  suc- 
cumbed, though  apparently  uninjured  when  taken,  and  so  the 
pack  were  treated  to  the  rare  luxury  of  venison  au  naturd,  to 
which  I  feel  sure  they  added  a  sauce  ires  piquante.  A  fine  gallop 
of  thirty  minutes,  it  might  have  been  something  better  but  for  the 
cause  I  have  mentioned.  A  second  deer  was  not  enlarged,  on 
account  of  the  accident  to  No.  i. 

In  sending  you  last  week  a  sketch  of  a  very  long  run  which 
this  pack  had  by  Ratoath,  Culmullen,  the  Hatchet,  and  so  on  to 
Maynooth,  I  should  have  stated  that  the  hounds  were  stopped 
from  further  pursuit  at  5.30  p.m.  at  the  latter  place,  though  the 
deer  by  all  accounts  was  full  of  running  still,  and  had  a  great  start 
of  her  enemies  at  that  late  hour.  She  was  left  out  perforce,  and 
some  spirited  hunting  passages  may  be  expected  in  the  efforts  to 
recover  her. 

The  sequel,  or  rather  the  conclusion,  of  Friday's  second  run  in 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  285 

Meath,  which  I  sent  you,  was  somehow  on  this  wise :  After  passing 
Rathcarne,  where  a  very  good  welter-weight  blocked  one  of  two 
available  spots  in  a  rugged  double,  the  fox  ran  to  the  verge  of 
Meadstown,  then,  passing  Kilbride,  made  Tullaghnogue  Covert, 
whence  he  was  hustled  out  in  twelve  or  fifteen  minutes,  and  then 
his  course  lay  back  to  Meadstown  ;  but  hounds  were  stopped  at 
this  point.  The  run  must  have  been  nearly  twelve  miles  over 
grass,  and  the  first  part  was  very  fast ;  one  horse,  I  know,  died  of 
exhaustion.  The  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy  was  well  up  at  the  finish.  It 
was  a  splendid  day's  sport  certainly. 

The  treeing  fox  is  not  common  in  Ireland,  and  in  most  polled 
oaks  or  ashes  you  would  be  as  likely  to  meet  a  Carolus  Rex  as 
a  fox,  though  old  ivied  ruins  are  affected  by  wise  vulps  occasionally. 
In  some  parts  of  Gloucestershire  so  common  a  fox-haunt  is  a 
polled  ash  or  willow,  when  well  furnished  with  ivy,  that  no  hunts- 
man passes  such  a  tree  by  without  some  investigation  or  cracking 
of  whip  under  it.  At  Ballymacoll,  in  the  County  Meath,  there  is 
a  very  matted  bit  of  ivy  in  the  lawn,  where  a  fox  haunted  regularly 
up  to  last  season,  his  lair  being  as  well  known  by  the  neighbours 
as  the  railway  station.  Why  he  has  forsaken  his  home  is  not 
known  generally.  Perhaps  Mr.  Vulp  preferred  a  basement  to  the 
more  elevated  position ;  perhaps  change  of  scene  became  desirable 
for  many  reasons. 

"  Heigho,  the  wind  and  the  rain  ! "  Blowing  great  guns  at 
night,  raining  torrents  by  day — such  was  the  outlook  on  Tuesday, 
the  i3th,  when  we  were  meditating  about  setting  off  for  the  Meath 
meet  at  Dunshaughlin.  Methinks  a  few  will  sing  "Heigh  nonino!" 
for  it  is  coming  down  in  small  bucketfuls,  and  the  western  horizon 
is  black  with  rain.  No !  we  have  not  degenerated  from  our  fellows 
of  Tarporley,  of  whom  the  Laureate  sings — 

"  Holding  together,  sir, 
Scorning  the  weather,  sir, 
Like  the  good  leather,  sir, 
Which  we  put  on. " 


286  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Dunshaughlin  reached,  we  find  between  one  and  two  hundred 
sportsmen,  and  a  few  sportswomen  too,  awaiting  the  advent  of  the 
pack,  who  now  top  the  hill,  and  are  presently  huddled  together  by 
Mr.  Kelly's  small  hostelry,  while  waterproofed  forms  emerge  from 
stables  and  all  sorts  of  sheltering  nooks,  and  in  a  few  minutes  a 
large  cavalcade  is  in  motion  down  the  well-known  lane  leading  to 
the  Poor-house   Gorse.      Here  we  are  amid  wide   green  fields, 
divided  from  each  other  by  single  banks  protected  by  a  quasi 
moat.     The  gorse  occupies  a  field  in  front,  and,  by  Jove,  'tis  a 
find  !     There  he  goes — a  small  fox  !     Goodall  has  some  five  or  six 
couples  of  hounds  with  him  ;  the  rest  have  found  another,  and  are 
hustling  him  about.     The  first  fence  is  such  as  I  have  described, 
and  in  a  second  five  men  are  "  moated ; "  a  few  get  over,  not  a 
few  decline.     It  is  only  a  couple  of  hundred  yards  to  go  round, 
and  the  pack  are  checking  already.     On  to  Parsonstown  Manor — 
no  !  'tis  back  towards  Lagore.     You  can  get  there  by  gaps  and 
gate  with  hardly  a  jump ;  you  can  have  a  few  chasms  en  route 
if  you  please.      Some   did   please.      We   have   a   sprinkling   of 
"  customers "  out  whom   big   things   don't   daunt      Mr.  Trotter 
cares  little  what  country  he  meets;  Mr.  Frewen  is  out  on  a  fine 
bold  hunter,  whom  I  noticed  recently  in  Lord  Oranmore's  posses- 
sion; Captain  Norris  hails  from  the  Pytchley;   Lord  Randolph 
Churchill   is   here   straight   from   the   Heythrop,  dear  to  under- 
graduates ;  Messrs.  Coppinger,  Murland,  Meldon,  Hone,  Turbitt, 
and  a  few  more   confront  weekly  the  biggest  country  in  these 
islands ;   the  Hon.   Harry  Bourke   loves  width  when  associated 
with  pace ;  while  large  fencing,  of  any  sort  or  kind,  is  simply 
second  nature  to  Lord  Langford,  Lord  A.  Lennox,  Lord  Ross- 
more,    and   Messrs.    Candy,    Harbord,  Butler,   etc.      In   Lagore 
plantations  there  is  some  delay,  followed  by  a  second  excursion  to 
our  starting-point ;  then  we  visited  Lagore  again,  once  more  slide 
into  a  brook  and  creep  up  the  far  side,  jump  into  the  Ratoath 
road,  and  now  it  looks  like  a  run  at  last.     A  drop  over  a  brook 
into  a  road,  which  was  not  nice  for  heavily  burdened  horses  ;  then 


HIBERNIA    VENA  2 1C  A.  287 

a  check ;  then  on  it  goes  to  another  Dunshaughlin  covert  (a  rood 
or  two  of  plantation,  with  some  shrubs  and  gorse) ;  then  exit — for 
I  forget  what  time — to  Lagore ;  then  who-whoop  !  who- whoop  ! 
Not  a  very  bold  fox,  and  one  much  given  to  sentry-like  rounds ; 
but  the  country  must  have  been  almost  as  daunting  to  him  as  to 
our  horses,  and  horses  did  fall  like  ninepins  ;  for,  though  we  were 
never  off  grass,  the  going  was  like  a  tenacious  slough.  Who  looks 
at  a  watch  in  such  weather  ?  so  I  can't  tell  you  the  time.  I  should 
think  they  hunted  him  for  more  than  an  hour  ere  they  killed. 

Lagore  is  the  hospitable  mansion  of  Mr.  Thunder,  and  thither 
his  sons  bid  the  field,  a  call  which  not  a  few  soaked  mortals  obeyed 
with  alacrity.  We  are  now  en  route  to  the  Reisk  Gorse.  The 
mendacious  glass,  which  has  been  rising  for  some  time,  now  finds 
fulfilment  of  its  augury  :  the  rain  ceases.  The  find  and  departure 
here  is  an  affair  of  less  than  two  minutes.  Scent  seems  burning 
as  the  pack  race  after  their  leaders  over  very  large  grass  fields, 
well  gated,  where,  with  the  pull  of  the  hill  in  your  favour,  you  may 
send  your  horse  along  at  best  pace  for  a  mile  or  more.  Kilbrew 
Sticks  is  left  on  the  hand  of  that  name.  We  have  got  over  the 
brook  by  a  bridge.  The  hounds  seem  to  dwell  a  bit  in  the  covert; 
one  single  hound  racing,  and  Mr.  Trotter  trying  in  vain  to  turn 
him,  is  what  we  see  when  we  emerge  from  a  small  plantation. 
The  hound  is  right ;  the'  pack  stream  after  him.  For  a  mile  or 
two  we  have  a  good  gallop,  with  lots  of  flying  fences,  till  we  get 
into  Green  Park.  There  is  no  detention  worthy  of  mention  here, 
among  the  shrubs  and  plantations ;  a  minute  or  two  at  most, 
then  on  we  go  to  Corbalton  Hall,  about  a  mile  distant — a  very 
stiff  mile  too ;  and  here  I  left  the  hounds  very  busy  with  what 
I  should  imagine  was  a  tired  and  beaten  fox,  for  the  woodlands 
and  plantations  are  extensive.  Considering  the  weather,  the  sport 
was  very  good;  hounds  worked  admirably.  The  strangers  from 
different  hunts  laud  Meath  and  its  grasseries  (pray  pardon  the 
coinage),  but  think  mostly  that  its  fences  are  over-big.  Perhaps 
a  few  natives  concur  in  this  estimate  ! 


288  HIBERN1A    YEN  A  TIC  A. 

The  pack  had,  I  hear,  a  very  smart  gallop  yesterday  afternoon 
over  a  stiff  line,  after  a  moderate  morning,  from  Shancarn  to  the 
Mullagh,  almost  a  repetition  of  the  extraordinary  run  of  their 
opening  day. 

The  hunting  chronicle  of  the  Duhallow  pack,  during  H.R.H. 
the  Duke  of  Connaught's  visit  to  Convamore,  runs  somewhat  in 
this  fashion :  Monday's  meet  was  transferred  to  Wednesday  to 
suit  the  programme,  and  it  turned  out  very  wet.  Killalty  Gorse, 
and  Killalty  Rock,  close  by,  were  foxless  for  a  wonder ;  but  in,  or 
rather  near,  Lisnagourneen  a  fox  was  viewed  stealing  away.  He 
ran  a  nice  line  for  a  bit  (very  much  the  same  as  he  had  travelled 
ten  days  before),  then  turned  towards  Glanworth,  and  was  rolled 
over;  thirty-five  minutes  of  very  good  uninterrupted  hunting, 
which  I  hear  the  Convamore  party  saw  rather  better  than  the  rest 
of  the  field.  His  Royal  Highness's  mishap  on  the  way  has  been 
already  mentioned.  Lunch  followed  at  Mr.  Welstead's,  Baily- 
walton. 

On  the  next  day,  they  began  by  finding  a  brace  of  foxes  at 
Clonee,  one  of  whom  they  sent  to  ground  in  the  direction  of 
Sallylease,  without  much  sport.  Kilborehirt,  the  next  covert 
tried,  was  surrounded  by  the  loyal  sons  of  the  soil,  whose  zeal 
rather  interfered  with  the  hunting.  A  good  fifteen  minutes  to 
ground  under  a  road  was  the  result,  when  the  fox  of  the  place  was 
permitted  to  break  into  the  open.  Ballybane  supplied  a  third  fox, 
but  his  career  was  not  very  brilliant  or  exciting. 

On  Saturday  Mallow  was  the  meeting-place,  and  a  levee  en 
masse  greeted  the  Duke.  The  Poor-house  Gorse  furnished  nothing 
better  than  a  stale  drag.  While  moving  to  the  second  draw,  a  fox 
jumped  up  out  of  a  hedgerow,  was  run  to  ground,  dug  out,  and 
killed.  While  the  pack  were  breaking  him  up,  a  second  was 
tallied  away.  The  hounds  were  clapped  on  him  instantly,  but 
made  next  to  nothing  of  him,  nor  of  another  vulp  found  in 
Rosheen,  who  ran  towards  Longueville,  Mr.  Longfield's  residence. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  met  at  Flat  House  on  Thursday,  the 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  289 

1 5th  (Wednesday,  their  usual  meeting  day,  having  been  changed, 
we  will  suppose,  in  deference  to  Mother  Church),  and  a  soldiers' 
drag,  with  carts  and  carriages  of  all  sorts,  made  the  uninteresting 
spot  wear  for  the  nonce  a  joyous  and  festive  aspect,  to  which  a 
very  pleasant,  cheerful  day  added  no  slight  assistance.  Trotting 
across  the  railway  track,  with  Norman's  Grove  on  the  right  hand, 
we  came  to  the  enlarging  field,  and  then  the  steeplechase — for  it 
was  one — began  at  fine  pace,  with  a  plentiful  allowance  of  large 
ditching,  which  included  the  Caulstown  Brook  and  a  very  large 
half-dry  ditch  near  Loughlinstown,  over  which  a  few  horses  made 
tremendous  springs  (in  the  native  tongue,  "  threw  heavy  leps  "), 
while  some  more  discreet  slided  down  into  the  bottom  and  got 
up  the  far  side  with  a  half-jump,  half-scramble.  Through  Har- 
bourstown  the  line  leads  towards  Ratoath,  across  the  high-road, 
and  thence  on  to  Ashbourne.  The  deer  being  viewed  now,  for  a 
short  distance  the  green  fields  (tenacious  and  holding  they  were, 
too)  are  exchanged  for  a  sound  road.  Greenoge  is  sighted,  a  turn 
back  towards  Ashbourne,  and  a  capture  effected.  Such  is  a  mere 
sketch  of  a  magnificent  pursuit  over  a  grass  vale  second  to  none 
within  my  experience,  and  till  Ballyhack  was  reached  there  was 
neither  pause  nor  dwell  in  the  continuous  pace.  Lords  Langford 
and  Rossmore,  I  fancy,  saw  the  hounds  from  a  good  position  all 
through,  and  so  did  Mr.  Trotter.  I  haven't  heard  what  the 
Kildare  hounds  did  on  Monday  last  On  Tuesday — watery  Tues- 
day— the  glorious  uncertainties  (or  certainties)  of  the  Irish  turf 
(cum  banks)  were  being  exemplified  on  Halverstown  hillside.  On 
Wednesday  (day  of  ashes)  they  met  at  Saggart ;  were  near  a  good 
run  from  Tallaght,  but  missed  it ;  and  found  foxes  galore  in  Johns- 
town Kennedy. 

The  Wexford  hounds  have  had  a  very  good  season.  Let  me 
illustrate  the  assertion  by  the  evidence  of  one  or  two  days.  On 
the  22nd  ult.  they  met  at  the  kennels,  and  found  in  the  Ringwood, 
the  fox  sweeping  past  the  kennels,  over  the  hill  by  Moneyhore, 
Clohass,  Scobie  Church,  and  Daphneyhill,  into  the  fair  green  of 


2  90  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Enniscorthy,  where  a  horse  mart  was  being  held — a  famous  oppor- 
tunity to  prove,  what  every  owner  of  a  likely  horse  was  prepared 
to  swear  by  the  shades  of  his  ancestors,  that  said  horse  or  colt 
was  the  best-lepped  horse  in  Ireland.  Many  joined  the  ranks  of 
pursuit  here.  The  fox  now  bent  to  the  left,  and  ran  rather  a  back 
track,  but  failed  to  beat  his  enemies,  who  rolled  him  over  after 
one  hour  and  twenty  minutes  of  capital  hunting. 

The  26th  is  said  to  have  been  the  best  scenting 'day  of  the 
season  in  Wexford.  From  Courtnacuddy  Wood  they  ran  a  fox 
straight  into  Castleboro'.  Their  second  they  found  in  Killoughran 
Wood,  and  the  pack,  getting  off  on  the  best  of  terms  with  him,  ran 
him  a  hard  ring  by  the  Chapel  of  Carne,  thence  across  the  large 
fields  towards  Ballyhyland,  which  he  skirted,  and  then  turned  for 
Woodbrook;  but  he  was  beginning  to  feel  the  severity  of  the 
pace,  so  he  turned  again,  spurted  past  Ballyhyland  Lawn,  hoping 
to  gain  the  earths  at  Warren's  Gorse,  but  they  were  closed.  He 
had  made  his  final  effort,  and  the  pack  were  on  him.  Fifty-three 
minutes,  very  good  and  continuous.  This  was  followed  on  the 
29th  by  a  very  fine  hunting  run  from  Mr.  Maher's  New  Gorse, 
while  on  the  i2th  inst.  they  had  thirty  rare  good  minutes  in  the 
teeth  of  a  strong  wind,  running  from  scent  to  view.  On  Tuesday 
the  Curraghmore  hounds,  with  whose  master  his  Royal  Highness 
is  now  staying,  met  at  Guilco  cross-roads,  and  seem  to  have  had  a 
very  fine  ring  from  Rathgormac,  described  as  a  dozen  miles  done 
in  one  hour  and  twenty-five  minutes  !  We  have  had  a  Leicester- 
shire man  over  here  during  the  past  ten  days,  and  I  much  regret 
that  the  sport  he  has  seen  has  not  been  first-class  by  any  means — 
hardly  second-rate — as  he  is  quite  as  much  at  home  in  Ireland  as 
in  the  shires  of  the  Saxon,  coming  up  very  nearly  to  the  Cheshire 
poet's  ideal  man,  "  to  whom  nought  came  amiss."  In  a  run  the 
other  day  he  managed  to  sound  the  depths  of  a  river,  and  in  going 
to  his  station  he  was  accosted  by  a  native,  who  remarked,  "  Faith 
ye  were  in  a  river,  and  they're  very  wet  this  season  ! " 

The  Kilkenny  hounds  have  had  a  busy  week  of  it,  beginning 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  291 

at  Desart  on  Monday,  when  they  killed,  after  a  pursuit  of  three 
hours.  On  Wednesday,  the  yth,  they  were  at  Castle  Morris, 
where  a  fine  extensive  park  and  handsome  modern  house  give 
beauty  to  a  whole  hill  slope.  In  Bullaglass,  a  covert  of  Lord 
Bessborough's,  a  very  stout  fox  turned  up,  who,  without  any  very 
straight  impulse,  kept  the  pack  at  work  between  Wynne's  Gorse, 
Owning's,  the  Slate  Quarries,  and  Castle  Morris  for  upwards  of 
two  hours. 

On  Friday,  meeting  at  Foyle  Bridge,  they  first  sent  a  fox  from 
Ballyspellan  to  ground,  then  drew  the  Rock,  and  had  a  capital 
and  very  long  half-ring  from  it,  through  Aharney,  Ballyspellan, 
and  Gathertown,  etc.,  the  pack  running  into  their  fox  in  the  open 
before  he  was  able  to  complete  it.  The  time  was  one  hour  and 
thirty  minutes  ;  the  line  very  good. 

The  Westmeath  hounds  had  a  good  run  from  Gaulston  Park 
on  Tuesday,  the  track  leading  by  the  Grove  towards  Violetstown 
and  Clonmoyle,  through  Catherinestown  and  Gurteen  into  Gay- 
brook,  where  fresh  foxes  turned  up ;  but  the  hounds  kept  to  their 
own,  hunted  him  by  Dunbodin  and  Carrick,  till  he  got  to  ground 
in  Skreen. 

The  Kildare  hounds  had  a  great  deal  of  hunting  and  a  long 
run,  which  improved  towards  its  close,  from  Nine-tree  Hill  Gorse 
on  Thursday,  when  they  met  at  Athy. 

Sir  David  Roche's  pack  had  a  fine  pursuit  from  Ballycummin 
on  Friday,  the  Qth,  beating  the  field  into  Cahirconlish,  about  eight 
miles.  Sir  David,  to  the  regret  of  the  country,  has  sent  in  his 
resignation. 

The  Meath  hounds  were  at  Larracor  on  Friday,  and,  finding 
instantly  at  Moneymore  Gorse,  ran  a  fox  over  a  charming  line 
towards  Tobercur,  when  he  was  headed  and  got  to  ground. 
Rahinstown  found  them  a  fox,  but  could  not  give  scent  to  drive 
him  withal ;  while  in  Garradice  they  found  their  third  fox,  and 
had  a  fine  hunting  run,  with  fast  bits  in  it.  They  had  a  fast  gallop 
from  Headfort  through  Kilmainham  to  Blomesbury  on  Thursday 
in  which  the  hounds  were  quite  alone. 


292  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

It  is  satisfactory  to  be  able  to  report  many  of  the  wounded  in 
our  mimic  warfare  as  convalescent.  Lord  Howth  is  riding  again ; 
Mr.  Morrogh  is  driving  about ;  Mr.  Macneil,  who  put  out  his  hip 
joint  about  a  week  ago,  is  going  on  very  well,  though  in  bed  still 
— his  stud  will  be  in  the  market  very  soon,  well-bred  powerful 
horses,  accustomed  to  go  straight  and  fast,  one  or  two  of  them 
extra  good  performers  over  water,  and  I  hear  over  timber  too,  but 
of  the  latter  accomplishment  I  can  only  speak  by  hearsay,  oppor- 
tunities for  gaining  this  distinction  are  so  rare  in  Ireland.  Another 
sportsman,  very  well  known  in  Meath  and  Kildare,  has  just  passed 
away — Dr.  Wade,  the  owner  and  breeder  of  many  good  horses  in 
his  time.  Martha  was,  perhaps,  the  best  known  of  his  recent  lot. 

I  think  I  mentioned  the  fact  of  the  Duke  of  Connaught's 
being  a  visitor  at  Curraghmore,  and  hunting  with  that  splendid 
pack  of  fox-hounds,  one  of  whose  highest  praises  is  the  competi- 
tion in  good  kennels  for  their  drafts.  Let  me  here  give  an 
epitome  of  their  sport  last  week.  i3th  February,  meeting  at 
Guilco  cross-roads,  they  got  on  to  a  fox,  who  did  not  await  a 
ceremonious  draw,  but  raced  away  for  the  mountain  of  Crughorne, 
where  he  got  into  the  rocky  fissures  ;  twenty-two  minutes  at  top 
speed,  most  men  down.  The  Duke  was  well  carried  by  a  horse 
of  Lord  Waterford's — Anchor.  A  second  fox  was  found  at  Bally- 
neal,  who  ran  to  the  same  mountain  refuge,  which  cannot  be 
thoroughly  stopped ;  eighteen  minutes,  with  burning  scent. 
Anchor  again  bore  his  Royal  Highness  in  the  van.  The  third  fox 
turned  up  in  Rathgormac,  pointing  for  Curraghmore ;  but,  headed, 
he  made  for  Carrick  Wood,  running  a  splendid  line  of  grass  ;  then 
swung  to  the  left,  and,  crossing  the  Milvale  river,  brushed  through 
the  Churchtown  plantations,  trying  hard  to  make  Gurteen;  but, 
finding  his  powers  failing  fast,  he  turned  back  for  Coolnamuck, 
and  got  into  Rathgormac  again,  when  he  crept  into  a  rabbit  hole 
a  very  short  distance  in  front  of  the  pack.  Six  only  finished  this 
splendid  circuit  of  eleven  miles,  which  was  done  very  little  over 
the  hour — namely,  Lord  Waterford,  Mr.  Mansfield  (who  had  a 


HIBERN1A    VENA  TIC  A.  293 

front  place  all  through,  I  hear),  the  huntsman  and  first  whip, 
Mr.  Me.nce,  and  a  farmer.  The  Duke,  mounted  on  what  I  call 
the  Kearsley  roan,  saw  the  run  well  up  to  Churchtown.  On  the 
1 5th  they  met  at  Dangan  Bridge  in  storm  and  rain,  which,  how- 
ever, did  not  prevent  an  enormous  field  from  coming  thither.  A 
long  trot  partly  across  country  brought  them  to  Knockbrack,  the 
Duke  of  Connaught  getting  a  rather  nasty  fall  at  a  wall,  from  his 
horse  landing  on  a  flag.  A  fox  broke  from  here  handsomely,  but 
was  headed  back,  when  he  tried  the  open  the  second  time.  Duke 
had  eighteen  couple  of  his  bitches  unpleasantly  near  his  brush, 
and-  the  result  was  an  extremely  fast  scurry  of  twenty  minutes  to 
Bally varon,  where  he  got  to  ground  in  a  drain  under  the  road.  A 
fox  was  chopped  at  Tory  Hill,  and  the  storm  after  that  dispersed 
every  one  homewards. 

The  1 6th  saw  them  at  Mountain  Grove,  and  presently  trying 
Carrick  Truss,  whence  a  greyhound  fox  sallied  forth  at  once, 
pointing  for  Killeen,  and  gaining  a  few  precious  seconds  at  the 
start;  from  Killeen  he  bent  in  the  direction  of  Castle  Morris 
(Kilkenny  county),  and  it  was  a  race  to  it  for  hounds  and  horses 
for  about  five  miles.  He  ran  right  through  the  woods  here  to 
make  Wynn's  Gorse,  but,  strength  failing,  he  swung  down  into  the 
vale,  and  was  rolled  over  in  the  open — in  fact,  in  the  middle  of  a 
large  grass  field — at  Harristown,  after  an  hour  and  twenty  minutes 
over  thirteen  miles  of  continuous  •  and  light  grass.  Eighteen 
couple  of  hounds  started  in  this  splendid  chase ;  seventeen  and  a 
half  broke  up  their  fox,  one  having  been  ridden  over.  The  Duke 
of  Connaught  was  again  carried  to  the  front  by  Anchor,  and  saw 
the  finish  well.  Thirty-nine  and  a  half  brace  of  foxes  have  been 
killed  by  this  triumphant  pack,  and  not  one  dug  out  since  the 
cub-hunting.  Needless  to  say,  H.R.H.  was  enthusiastically  re- 
ceived by  all  classes.  His  popularity  in  Ireland  was  hereditary, 
it  is  now  personal. 

Sport  in  Louth,  too,  has  been  first-class.  I  can  only  glance  at 
it  now.  Thes'e  are  the  plums  of  the  pie  :  An  hour  and  seven 


294  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

minutes  from  Charleville  on  Monday,  the  5th.  On  the  loth,  after 
much  wood-hunting  at  Cabra,  a  capital  fifty  minutes  from  Lis- 
naboe.  On  the  i3th,  three-quarters  of  an  hour  very  fast  from 
Bragganstown  Gorse  to  the  town  of  Ardee.  On  the  i6th,  a  very 
long  circular  hunting  run  from  Glenmore,  by  Flattens,  Donore, 
Duleek,  Rathmullen,  back  to  Glenmore,  two  hours  and  fifteen 
minutes  in  all.  On  the  8th  the  pack  had  the  narrowest  of  escapes 
as  they  were  pursuing  along  the  Northern  line. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  had  a  singularly  fine  run  on  Wednes- 
day over  a  perfect  grass  line  of  upwards  of  thirteen  miles.  I  can 
only  allude  to  it  en  passant  now. 


H1BERNIA   VENATICA.  295 


XX. 

"The  earths  are  open  :  will  he  reach  the  cover? 
Who-whoop  !  he  sinks  exhausted  ;  all  is  over  ! 


Larracor — Fine  evening  run  from  Pratt's  Gorse — "Laragh" — Kill  near 
Killakee— A  field  squandered. 

FRIDAY,  the  i6th  of  February,  made  its  advent  in  white  rime  and 
some  little  congelation  of  the  plasters  of  mud  and  clay  which  the 
recent  open  weather  had  spread  about  most  liberally.  By  nine 
o'clock,  or  a  little  after,  with  the  evil  omen  of  a  very  vivid  rain- 
bow, down  came  the  rain  and  sleet  with  a  will,  and  so  cold  that 
snow  seemed  about  to  succeed  very  quickly.  However,  after  one 
outburst  of  the  sleet  and  rain,  the  sun  shone  forth,  the  clouds 
disappeared,  the  horizon  extended,  and  for  seven  hours  we  had 
the  treat  and  novelty  of  a  gloriously  fine  day,  with  a  bite  and  sting 
in  the  air  all  the  time,  which  might,  or  might  not,  bode  the  most 
burning  scent  or  its  total  absence,  for  in  such  temperature  there  is 
seldom  any  medium. 

The  meeting-point  of  the  Meath  hounds  was  Larracor,  by  the 
cross-roads,  one  of  which  leads  to  the  small  church  and  parsonage 
which  the  genius  of  Swift  has  immortalized,  and  the  presence  of 
Esther  Johnson  (Stella)  has  embalmed  in  the  romantic  passages 
of  Irish  story.  Coming  down  Braemount  Hill,  the  fine  valley  of 
the  Boyne  seemed  spread  out  before  one,  and  the  turreted  Trim, 
with  its  chain  of  castles  and  fortalices  carrying  one  back  to  the 
Plantagenet  times,  did  not  seem  more  than  a  mile  distant,  though 


296  HI  BERN  I  A   VENA  TIC  A. 

really,  I  believe,  a  good  deal  further  off.  It  was  my  case  to  have 
ridden  a  long  distance  to  the  meeting-point,  and  the  severity  of 
the  earlier  hours  probably  made  me  hurry  over  those  long,  weary 
Irish  miles  at  better  pace  than  usual,  for  I  found  myself  the  first 
in  the  field,  with  ample  leisure  to  survey  a  large  troop  of  as  neat 
and  well-appointed  pad-grooms  and  second  horsemen  as  any  pack 
within  my  experience  can  show.  Here  are  two  fine  capital  weight- 
carriers  sent  on  by  Lieut.-Colonel  Fraser  for  Lord  Sufneld.  Lord 
Howth's  second  horseman  is  here — a  good  omen,  as  his  lordship 
has  been  compelled  to  be  an  absentee  for  some  weeks  now,  owing 
to  strains  from  a  severe  fall.  Two  fine,  powerful  horses,  belong- 
ing to  Mr.  Brown,  of  Elm  Grove,  catch  the  eye  at  once — a  bay 
and  a  chestnut ;  Lords  Rossmore,  Langford,  and  Captain  Candy's 
hunters  will  bear  full  inspection  and  criticism ;  so  will  the  Hon. 
H.  Bourke's,  Major-General  Herbert's,  and  Mr.  Trotter's.  But 
time  is  up ;  the  master's  cart  and  the  well-known  chestnut  pull 
up  ;  ten  minutes  is  devoted  to  the  day's  programme,  the  exchange 
of  news,  and  gossip.  Then,  late  or  early,  punctual  or  tardy,  no 
more  time  is  given,  and  something  like  a  hundred  or  a  hundred 
and  thirty  mounted  men,  a  few  carriages,  and  half-a-dozen  ladies 
are  set  in  motion  by  the  mot  cTordrc  of  Mr.  Waller — "Moneymore." 
I  should  think  it  was  a  short  mile  from  the  assembling-place,  a 
natural  gorse,  apparently  assisted  much  by  care  and  inclosure. 
While  the  pack  are  busy  questing  about,  let  us  glance  at  our 
entourage.  The  usual  Meath  men  are  here  in  fair  force ;  some 
Ward  Union  pursuers  have  thrown  in  their  lot  with  fox-hunting 
to-day ;  from  Kildare  come  Mr.  Forbes,  the  master-elect,  Captain 
Davis,  Mr.  Maher,  and  one  or  two  more ;  while  a  young  lady, 
who  went  remarkably  well  last  Meadstown  day,  Miss  Colgan, 
appears  to  be  piloted  by  the  last-named  gentleman,  who  seldom 
rides  a  bad  hunter.  Captain  Kearney  represents  the  Castle  staff; 
Lord  Suffield,  expected,  does  not  turn  up,  but  the  Hon.  Mr. 
Harbord,  his  son,  is  to  the  fore. 

The  hounds  have  found.     There  seems  a  scent  in  covert ;  a 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  297 

hat  is  raised.  There  he  goes  over  a  fine  old  grass  pasture  which 
rides  as  firm  and  strong  and  consistent  as  a  payement,  which  in 
these  times  of  slough  and  slush  is  a  rare  delight  and  joy.  A 
comparative  stranger  to  this  part  of  royal  Meath,  I  cannot  pre- 
sume to  say  where  our  little  red  rover  is  bound ;  for  all  I  know 
is  that,  after  a  field  or  two  of  nice  galloping,  we  turned  to  the  left 
and  met  a  large  double — really  a  model  fence,  and  such  'as  you 
would  choose  to  break  a  colt  over.  But,  whether  the  taking-off 
was  soft,  or  men  hit  upon  bad  spots,  there  were  flashes  of  legs 
and  arms  in  the  air,  empty  saddles,  Lords  and  Commons  on  the 
bank  or  in  the  ditch  !  Another  bank  follows  presently  ;  it  is  not 
so  formidable  as  the  first,  but  it  leads  to  certain  curiosities  in 
horse  attitudes  worth  a  study.  People  have  now  shaken  into 
their  places.  There  seems  a  green  perspective  in  front,  when  the 
hounds  throw  up  their  heads  !  The  fox  has  been  apparently 
headed  at  a  staked  gap  by  a  herdsman,  and  has  gone  to  ground 
in  a  burrow  in  the  middle  of  a  large  field.  Tobercur  is  the 
place's  name,  I  hear.  Moneymore  is  so  good  a  gorse  that  we 
go  back  there  on  the  off  chance  of  a  second  find,  but  in  vain ; 
and  now  we  are  passing  the  extensive  park  and  square  ruins  of 
Dangan  Castle,  the  ancient  manorial  seat  of  the  Wellesleys,  and, 
turning  down  a  lane-way,  find  ourselves  presently  at  the  Bullring 
Covert,  consisting  of  two  or  three  little  well-gorsed  hillocks,  with 
some  rather  swampy  land  under  them.  The  hounds  take  pos- 
session of  the  hill ;  we  maunder  about  through  the  swamps. 
There  is  no  tauromachy,  but  the  conjugation  of  the  verb  iriirTia  is 
thoroughly  illustrated  in  every  mood  and  tense ;  for  there  are 
some  two  or  three  well-known  fences — doubles,  guarded  by  full 
ditches  on  either  side — which  must  be  got  over  if  our  motto  be 
old  Blucher's,  "vorwarts!"  Harden  your  heart,  my  noble 
sportsman ;  vacillate  not,  nor  waver ;  you  will  certainly  get  over 
or  in ;  why  not  tempt  your  fate  early,  ere  the  banks  become  more 
rotten  and  more  greasy  by  the  wear  of  many  scores  of  hoofs  ? 
The  fences  are  contemptible  to  look  at ;  but  anything  is  serious 


* 
298  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

when  the  take-off  is  more  than  doubtful.  The  most  conspicuous 
victim  within  my  purview  was  a  very  smart  second  horseman, 
who  got  two  baths  in  about  as  many  minutes ;  the  first  time  you 
saw  a  cockade  flash  in  the  light,  then  a  column  of  water,  that 
Trafalgar  Square  might  be  proud  of,  rising  from  the  base  of 
displacement !  The  first  lot  of  men  over  got  on  a  knoll,  and 
formed  a  critical  galley  of  onlookers,  till  it  really  became  an 
ordeal  to  face,  specially  with  a  baulking  horse.  We  are  now  by 
Rahinstown  (Rainstown  by  pronunciation)  Gorse,  a  sure  find, 
judging  by  past  experiences.  To-day  'tis  sure  and  quick ;  and 
even  on  this  light  land  scent  seems  to  be  blazing,  as  the  pack,  led 
by  a  very  neat  Belvoir-like  hound,  Playmate,  dash  down  a  large, 
newly  laid-down  bit  of  grass,  and  top  a  hill,  disappearing  over  a 
big  bank.  It  is  catchy,  however  ;  for  after  another  field  they  are 
at  fault,  and  Goodall  brings  them  back  to  the  bottom  of  the  hill, 
and  hits  off  the  clue  very  happily.  It  leads  on  first  by  the  edge 
of  a  wood,  then  across  it  to  the  Summerhill  road,  then  follows  a 
slow  drag  into  the  Bullring  Gorse,  with  a  repetition  of  the 
identical  fences,  and  much  the  same  scenic  tableaux.  Here  we 
lost  our  fox,  and  trotted  on  to  Summerhill  in  quest  of  another ; 
but  the  main  woods  were  being  thinned,  I  believe,  so  we  only  drew 
one  covert  without  result,  and  here  we  are  en  route  to  Garradice 
or  Pratt's  Gorse,  a  very  thick  fox-haunt,  and  one  which  takes 
much  drawing,  small  as  it  looks.  The  find  is  immediate ;  the 
exit  is  not  quite  so  quick.  Our  field  is  now  reduced  to  some 
forty  or  fifty,  and  at  the  telegraphic  "Gone  away !"  every  one  sets 
off,  best  pace,  towards  Summerhill ;  but  in  a  very  few  minutes  a 
greasy  double  has  compelled  a  considerable  slacking  of  speed 
and  steam.  The  fox  has  turned  towards  Larch  Hill,  run  through 
a  portion  of  it,  and  then  walked  back  to  the  gorse  he  came  from. 
The  latter  part  and  any  further  sequence  I  did  not  see,  having 
found  the  practicable  spot  in  a  large  quick  fence  blocked  up  by 
the  hunter  of  a  hard-riding  Saxon — his  third  fall,  I  think,  that 
day — and  not  caring  to  go  a  considerable  round  at  this  late  hour. 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  299 

But  I  should  have  gone  round  ;  purblind  mortals  that  we  are,  how 
can  we  forecast  the  ways  of'  foxes,  and  the  eventualities  of  a  run 
which  may  appear  to  open  most  unpromisingly  in  its  earlier 
chapters  ?  It  would  appear  that  our  little  division  went  too  far 
to  the  right,  and  that  the  fence  I  have  alluded  to  was  simply  a 
field  beyond  the  legitimate  course.  Hence  these  tears  !  The 
fox  only  skirted  Larch  Hill,  then  ran  by  the  edge  of  the  canal 
for  some  distance,  crossed  it  somewhere  near  Ferns  Lock,  and 
raced  away  at  the  far  side  over  a  perfect  line  of  vale  country,  till 
he  had  well-nigh  reached  Ballycaghan  Gorse  (the  Kildare  fox 
covert).  Headed  here  by  a  hedger,  as  I  am  told,  he  turned  back, 
recrossed  the  canal,  making  his  way  over  the  grassy  reaches  of 
Dollanstown  and  Drumlargan,  by  Pratt's  Gorse,  till  he  got  once 
more  into  Larch  Hill ;  and  when  hounds  were  stopped,  owing  to 
the  very  late  hour  and  fading  daylight,  he  was  holding  on  for  the 
Mullagh  Hill,  en  route  probably  to  Culmullen.  One  hard-riding 
man,  who  persevered  to  the  sweet  end,  assured  me  it  was  about 
the  best  thing  he  had  seen  this  season.  The  field  at  the  com- 
mencement of  it  was  very  much  reduced  from  its  morning  volume ; 
by  the  wind-up  it  was  very  small  and  select.  Among  the  stayers 
were  Lords  Langford  and  Rossmore,  Mr.  Trotter,  Mr.  Forbes, 
Mr.  Purdon,  Mr.  Dunne,  and,  I  think,  Captain  Candy.  I  hear 
the  timers  made  the  run  one  hour  and  a  half;  slow  on  the  whole, 
but  with  fast  bits  throughout. 

On  Saturday,  the  i7th,  to  pursue  our  chronicle,  the  Kildare 
hounds  met  at  Donadea  Court  House.  It  is  the  portal  to  a  very 
fine  country,  but  not  particularly  convenient  for  railway  travellers, 
as  it  is  some  five  or  six  miles,  if  not  more,  from  either  Sallins  or 
Kilcock  stations,  the  best  ways  of  getting  thither  from  Dublin 
or  Westmeath.  A  dripping  night  preluded  a  most  lovely  day — 
grey  and  overshadowed,  and  not  too  gaudy  to  hope  for  splendid 
results  in  the  way  of  sport.  What  was  the  sequel  of  great  expec- 
tations my  tale  will  unfold  presently.  I  said  it  was  a  lovely  day, 
with  a  sense  of  spring  and  change  and  life  in  every  pulse  of  the 


3oo  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

mild  air,  in  every  note  of  the  musicians  of  the  grove,  thicket, 
and  hedgerow.  The  ladies  evidently  thought  it  so,  for  they 
mustered  in  very  great  numbers,  and  stayed  out  till  the  finish, 
enjoying  the  rare  climatic  luxuries  with  great  apparent  zest ;  they 
nearly  formed  a  small  field  in  themselves.  Besides  the  regular 
Kildare  people,  the  visiting  list  comprised  Lords  Langford  and 
Rossmore,  Captain  Candy,  Mr.  Fowler  of  Rahinstown,  Messrs. 
Hone,  Purdon,  Dunne,  Chapman,  and  M'Gerr,  from  Meath ;  from 
Dublin  came  Lieut. -Colonel  Forster,  Captain  Lascelles,  Mr.  Usher 
Roberts,  Mr.  Davis,  the  Hon.  L.  White,  Mr.  Cross,  and  Mr. 
Wade  Prosser;  from  Newbridge  appeared  Major  Dent  and  some 
officers  of  the  7th  Dragoons,  Captain  Hanning-Lee,  A.D.C., 
Mr.  Knox,  R.H.A.,  and  one  or  two  brother  officers.  No  fox 
appeared  in  Donadea  or  Mount  Armstrong,  and  stony  roads  had 
to  be  trotted  over  for  not  a  few  miles  till  Cappagh  was  reached. 
Scent,  judging  by  the  melodious  symphonies  of  the  pack,  was 
very  good,  but  it  mattered  little  to  the  hard-riding  division  out. 
Who-whoop  !  who-whoop  !  and  the  tenant  of  Cappagh  Gorse  is 
becoming  incorporate  with  the  Kildare  pack.  Ballycaghan  Gorse 
remains,  in  all  its  extent  and  certainty  of  holding.  Alas  !  the 
long  line  drawn  up  at  a  respectful  distance  learns  in  twenty 
minutes  or  so  from  the  bugle  call  that  another  fox  has  paid  the 
penalty  of  lingering  too  long  in  his  gorsy  home.  Courtown  has 
been  staunch  in  holding  foxes  this  season,  but  Courtown  has  no 
vulp  life  within  it  to-day  !  I  did  not  wait  to  see  Painstown 
run  through,  as  from  its  limits  it  must  be  a  very  uncertain 
haunt. 

On  Monday,  the  igth,  the  Ward  Union  stag-hounds,  reached 
by  a  special  train  from  the  Broadstone  terminus,  attracted  a  fair 
field  to  Batterstown  station.  As  bad  luck  would  have  it,  some 
repairs  were  going  on  here,  which  necessitated  a  move  for  the 
horse-boxes  on  to  Drumree  station,  a  couple  of  miles  further  down 
the  line.  To  meet  the  situation,  the  deer  of  the  day  was  enlarged 
about  a  mile  from  Culmullen  House,  which  gave  all  time  to 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  301 

assemble.  A  beautiful  grass  country  faced  us,  but  the  deer  had 
been  coursed ;  so  her  track  was  most  devious  till  we  crossed 
"the  Hatchet"  road  by  Ribstone,  then  it  was  straight  through 
Ballymaglasson  to  Baytown  Park,  thence  in  view  to  Vesington, 
where  the  capture  was  made.  The  run  was  in  a  downpour  of 
rain,  to  which  succeeded  a  wind  and  rain  storm,  as  predicted 
by  the  meteorologists  in  New  York  and  telegraphed  as  coming. 

I  had  not  space  to  do  justice,  or  even  to  epitomize,  a  few  days 
of  fine  sport  recently  shown  by  the  Louth  hounds  in  my  last  letter. 
Let  me  now  give  a.  precis  of  their  performances. 

On  the  5th  they  were  at  Barmeath,  found  at  once,  and  sent  a 
fox  to  an  unknown  sewer  in  the  park.  From  Charleville  a  fox 
was  taken  very  fast  for  fifty  minutes  by  Dunbar  and  Dromina  into 
Painstown,  where  he  was  dead  beat;  but  Mr.  Filgate  was  un- 
willing to  kill  in  the  covert,  so  he  gave  the  fox  a  vStart,  which  he 
used  to  good  purpose  in  getting  to  the  open  earths  at  Rathaskar. 
One  hour  and  seven  minutes  in  all. 

On  the  8th,  after  killing  a  fox  at  Harbourstown,  they  got  well 
away  with  another  by  Snowtown,  hunting  him  for  forty-five  minutes 
by  Naul  and  Stedalt.  From  Gormanstown,  where  several  foxes 
were  on  foot  together,  one  took  to  the  metals,  with  hounds  in 
pursuit ;  a  train  was  following  in  their  wake.  The  situation  was 
awful  for  a  huntsman  and  master,  but  no  bad  result  followed. 

On  the  loth  they  were  at  Collon,  put  a  fox  to  ground,  then 
had  a  lot  of  woodland  work  for  an  hour,  and  a  ring  in  the  open 
with  another.  From  Lisnaboe  they  ran  a  fox  very  hard  for  fifty 
minutes,  but  had  to  whip  off  on  Meath  Hill  at  five  o'clock  p.m. 

On  the  1 3th,  meeting  at  Mansfieldstown,  they  visited  Brag- 
ganstown,  where  a  lively  fox  started  off  before  the  pack,  running 
by  the  Clyde  river  to  Mapastown,  and  then,  turning  to  the  left, 
into  Guddestown  Gorse,  where  he  did  not  hang  a  moment,  but, 
passing  over  Roodstown  Hill,  crossed  the  river  Dee,  held  on 
through  Stakillen,  and  just  beat  the  pack  to  ground  in  the  old 
mount  behind  the  town :  forty- five  minutes,  extremely  good. 


V 

302  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

A  brace  turned  up  in  Drumcashel,  and  the  day  wound  up  with  a 
racing  fifteen  minutes  and  a  kill  from  Lisrenny,  scent  serving  very 
well. 

On  the  1 6th  they  were  at  Glenmore,  where  they  found  a  good 
starter,  who  ran  a  circuit  by  Flattens  to  Kearn's  Glen  and  back. 
His  next  excursion  was  the  White  Mountain  by  Duleek,  over  the 
rails  by  Caulstown  and  Peamore  to  the  station  at  Drogheda ;  next 
followed  a  long  check  at  Ball's  Grove,  and  then  the  chase  led  by 
Rathmullen  into  Old  Bridge,  back  to  Glenmore,  where  a  friendly 
hand  probably  let  him  in.  Two  hours  and  fifteen  minutes. 

On  Tuesday,  the  2oth,  the  Kildare  hounds — who  began  the 
week  rather  infelicitously  at  Eagle  Hill  yesterday,  finding  a  fair 
sprinkling  of  foxes  all  round  Martinstovvn,  but  no  driving  power 
to  make  them  dash  into  the  open  for  dear  life's  sake — met  at   >_ 
Naas,  the  ancient  capital  (so  says  venerable  tradition)  of  the  kings 
of  Leinster.     To-day  it  was  turned  into  a  quasi-alfresco  durbar,    1 
to  meet  the  hounds  'tis  true,  but  also  to  meet  H.R.H.  the  Duke 
of  Connaught,  who  was  coming,  so  said  fame,  from  Moore  Abbey,   | 
Lord  Drogheda's  residence,  for  this   rendezvous.     Naas  and  its    ? 
neighbouring  meets  have  proved,  so  far  as  my  experience  this  * 
season  goes,  very  faithful  conductors  of  rain,   hail,  sleet,   snow, 
storm,  and  tempest,  and  all  things  most  inimical  to  hunting  and 
hunting  men  and  horses.     I  can  hardly  recall  an  exception  or 
extenuating  circumstance  to  this  grave  atmospheric  indictment ; 
and,  to  engrave  the  facts  more  permanently  in  my  memory,  it  was 
my  lot  on  every  occasion  to  have  to  ride  or  drive  the  best  part  of 
a  score  of  miles  to  the  trysting-place. 

The  night  6f  the  igth  was  fearfully  stormy  and  wet,  and  I  fear 
will  be  sadly  calendered  in  many  memories  of  sea-faring  folk  on 
our  coasts.  Even  on  land,  there  was  a  certain  amount  of  flotsam 
and  jetsam  strewed  about  roads  and  fields,  in  the  shape  of  trees 
blown  down  and  branches  snapped  off  by  the  violence  of  the 
gale.  At  eight  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  the  2oth  everything  was 
very  still  and  serene,  though  bitterly  cold,  and  there  was  every 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  303 

prospect  of  a  dry,  bracing  day.  In  an  hour  or  two  everything 
changed.  A  biting  wind  from  the  north-west  drove  discharges 
of  rain  first,  then  sleet,  then  a  combination  of  sleet,  snow,  and 
hail  on  the  wayfarer,  who  was  fortunate  indeed  if  he  were  not  his 
own  coachman.  The  meet  of  the  county  pack  was  advertised  for 
11.30  to  enable  railway  people  from  Dublin,  Carlow,  and  the 
Queen's  County  to  arrive  in  time ;  the  state  of  the  weather  and 
these  intermittent  tempests  made  it  well-nigh  noon  ere  the  caval- 
cade formed  opposite  the  Royal  Hotel  into  a  sort  of  procession 
en  route  to  Osberstown  Gorse,  about  a  mile  to  the  westward.  It 
was  no  small  one,  maugre  the  inclemency  of  the  skies  and  the 
piercing,  marrow-chilling  cold.  Ladies  !  They  braved  it  in  right 
womanly  fashion  in  pony-carriages  and  on  horseback,  and  I  can 
aver  that  some  provincial  packs  would  think  they  had  a  fine  field 
out  in  the  amazoned  squadron  alone.  Among  them  were  Mrs. 
Tynte  and  Miss  Tynte,  Mrs.  Moore  and  Miss  Moore,  the  Countess 
of  Huntingdon,  the  Hon.  Miss  Lawless,  the  Misses  Beauman, 
Mrs.  Langrishe,  Mrs.  Falkiner,  Miss  De  Robeck,  Miss  Pratt, 
Miss  Kilbee,  Mrs.  Bagot,  Miss  O'Kelly,  the  Misses  Owen,  Mrs. 
Lukin  ;  while  driving  were  Lady  Annette  La  Touche,  Mrs.  Wake- 
field,  Lady  Maria  Fitzclarence,  Miss  Burton  and  party,  Lady 
Margaret  Bourke,  and  Mrs.  Ward  Bennett.  Among  the  many 
visitors  were  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught,  the  Earl  of  Hun- 
tingdon, the  Hon.  B.  Fitzpatrick,  Major  Billington,  Captains 
Bloomfield,  Mills,  Ward  Bennett,  Ellis,  and  one  or  two  more 
Inniskillings ;  Mr.  Wardrop  and  officers  of  the  3rd  Dragoon 
Guards ;  Major  Dent,  Captains  Day,  George,  Brooke,  and  others 
of  the  7th  Dragoons ;  Mr.  Knox,  Mr.  Hibberd,  and  other  Horse 
Artillerymen;  Captains  Hanning-Lee,  Graves  Sawle,  and  J. 
M'Calmont,  A.D.C.,  Captain  the  Hon.  T.  Scott  and  officers  of 
the  Rifle  Brigade,  and  Captain  G.  Fitzclarence,  R.N.  From  the 
Queen's  County  came  Mr.  J.  G.  Adair,  Mr.  Skeffington  Smyth, 
and  Mr.  Webber ;  from  Dublin,  Mr.  Power  and  Mr.  Rose ;  and 
from  Cavan,  Mr.  Humphreys. 


3o4  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

Osberstown  Gorse  looked  as  fine  a  fox-haunt  as  usual,  but  it 
did  not  hold  a  fox  to-day  for  us,  or  if  it  did  he  would  not  break — 
a  circumstance  which  I  dare  say  relieved  the  minds  of  the  owners 
of  the  widespread  pastures  around  it,  for  they  were  in  a  state  of 
semi-morass  and  partial  slough  already ;  so  we  moved  on  a  couple 
of  miles  further,  really  almost  backwards  to  Punchestown  Gorse, 
which,  like  Othello,  has  done  the  state  some  service  in  this  year  of 
grace — I  mean  the  hunting  state  ;  nor  did  it  fail  us  at  our  need  to- 
day. In  a  quarter  of  an  hour  we  were  following  our  pioneer  over 
the  field  which  leads  to  the  grand  stand,  quite  prepared,  of  course, 
to  hunt  any  amount  of  foxes  with  the  first  four  or  five  couple  of 
hounds  that  emerged  from  the  gorse.  There  is  no  hurry  to-day. 
The  hounds  keep  moving  on,  but  that  is  all ;  and  the  fox  has  not 
had  much  of  a  start.  In  a  couple  of  fields,  near  the  Furry  Hills, 
we  are  checking  ;  then,  in  a  small  bit  of  plough,  a  rustic  shows  us 
the  fox's  path.  On,  nearly  straight,  up  the  several  tiers  of  hills 
which  the  eastern  range  throws  out  as  spurs.  The  field  breaks  up 
into  three  or  four  columns,  and  so,  working  on  over  small  banks 
and  an  odd  bit  of  timber,  sometimes  behind  the  toiling  pack, 
sometimes  before  it,  we  arrive  at  Elverstown's  fine  gorse,  and  the 
well-known  hills  and  ravines  thereto  pertaining.  The  delay  here 
is  very  brief,  and  the  hounds  send  their  fox  handsomely  through 
it  up  the  opposite  hill,  bound  apparently  for  Glending  or  Rusboro', 
vt&  Slieve  Rhue.  A  snowstorm  came  on  apace  here,  and  shelter, 
if  procurable,  seemed  more  sensible  than  slow  pottering.  If  the 
hounds  had  the  gallop  of  the  season  after  this,  I  can  only  speak 
and  write  of  it  from  hearsay ;  but  if  others  have  eyes  and  eyelids 
fashioned  like  mine,  they  could  not  see  fifty  yards  in  front  of  them, 
much  less  ride  straight  in  one  of  the  blinding  hailstorms  which 
succeeded  by-and-by.  I  believe  there  were  falls  over  the  small 
fences  we  crossed  to-day.  I  only  saw  one  which  looked  ugly  at 
first — Rawle,  the  first  whip,  seeming  to  be  under  his  horse,  which 
fell  at  an  up-bank ;  but,  in  reality,  I  fancy  there  was  no  danger. 
I  hear  this  excellent  hunt  servant  (many  will  endorse  this  record) 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  305 

is  leaving  Kildare  at  the  end  of  this  season.  He  will  be  missed 
much,  for  his  civil,  obliging,  and  respectful  manner  have  won  him 
many  friends.  I  do  not  pretend  to  be  a  competent  judge,  but  I 
certainly  thought  him,  so  far  as  my  observation  went,  a  fine  patient 
horseman,  with  dash  when  wanted,  and  well  up  to  his  work. 

Wednesday,  the  2ist.  The  Ward  Union  hounds  had  a 
celebrity  before  them  to-day  in  the  red  deer  Laragh.  The  meet 
was  at  Rathbeggan,  the  enlargement  at  Porterstown,  and  a  sheep- 
dog diverted  Laragh  from  his  original  purpose,  sending  him  over 
the  terrible  Bush  Farm,  which  some  wise  men  avoided,  while 
others,  hoping  for  open  or  unlocked  gates,  found  that  jump  they 
must  to  get  out,  and  the  catalogue  of  catastrophes  was,  I  hear, 
a  long  one.  Thence  the  line  leads  on  across  the  metals  of  the 
Meath  Railway  to  Ballymaglasson,  by  Blackhall,  and  apparently 
for  Kilcloon  ;  but  Laragh  turned  sharp  to  the  right  here,  throwing 
out  some  of  the  field,  and  ran  over  a  beautiful  and  rich  pasture 
vale  through  Little  Blackhall,  by  Colistown  fox  covert  and  the  old 
castle  of  Mulhussey,  to  Mr.  M'Gerr's  farm;  thence  the  track 
wavers  towards  Larch  Hill,  but  hardly  touches  it,  holding  on  for 
Kilmore  and  Summerhill,  through  the  park,  through  the  bit  of 
peat  moss,  and  on  to  Rahinstown,  where  Laragh  was  taken ;  the 
watches  made  it  one  hour  and  forty-five  minutes. 

The  hounds  ran  unchecked,  I  think,  the  entire  distance.  The 
field  got  a  momentary  respite  at  the  peat  moss,  between  Summer- 
hill  and  Agher,  but  the  hounds  were  not  stopped,  running  the 
entire  circle. 

I  should  not  like  to  walk  the  distance  for  a  bet  much  under 
fifteen  miles  !  It  would  be  very  hard  to  discover  a  sign  of  plough, 
not  only  in  the  line,  but  for  miles  near  it.  Some  fourteen  finished 
where  many  began  ;  nor  do  I  profess  to  maintain  that  these  four- 
teen were  tied  to  the  pack  for  all  the  chase.  Lord  Langford, 
Mr.  Kelly,  Mr.  Thompson,  and  Mr.  Trotter  had.  a  good  view 
throughout,  and  so  had  an  ecclesiastic. 

Scent  and  sport,  and  stout  foxes,  combine  to  help  the  Wexford 

x 


306  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

hounds,  of  whose  performance  recently  I  gave  your  readers 
a  slight  sketch  in  my  last  letter,  if  my  memory  serves  me  truly. 
To  continue  their  history  :  On  the  2gth  they  met  at  the  Island, 
but  did  not  find  there,  nor  yet  at  Castle  Talbot.  The  next  draw 
was  Mr.  Maher's  new  covert,  the  Scough  Bush,  and  a  lucky  one  it 
proved,  holding  two,  one  of  whom  was  brought  a  very  wide  ring, 
which  occupied  nearly  an  hour  and  a  half.  In  his  second  de- 
parture he  was  joined  by  another  fox,  which  did  not  improve 
matters ;  one  was  run  to  ground  after  two  hours  and  fifteen 
minutes. 

On  the  5th  inst.  they  met  at  Solsboro',  and,  without  finishing 
the  drawing  of  the  covert  there,  adjourned  to  a  sedgy  bottom  near 
Monague,  where  a  fox  (a  celebrity,  too)  was  said  to  resort — and 
truly,  for  the  pack  started  on  capital  terms  with  the  outlier,  and 
took  him  straight  away  for  Booly  Hill,  a  seven-mile  point.  Here 
there  was  a  long  check ;  then  the  line,  when  hit  off,  led  towards 
Ballycarnen,  but  a  sheep-dog  came  on  the  scene  here,  and  spoilt  the 
almost  inevitable  finish  to  a  fine  run  of  one  hour  and  ten  minutes. 

On  the  7th  the  meet  was  Ballysop,  and  the  pack  were  con- 
tinuously hunting  for  two  hours  and  forty-five  minutes,  changing 
foxes  three  times,  once,  at  a  critical  time,  at  Stokestown. 

On  the  1 2th  they  were  at  Wilton  Castle,  Colonel  Alcock's 
beautifully  wooded  residence,  and,  to  begin  with,  had  one  hour's 
covert  work  there.  Their  second  fox  turned  up  in  Ballybrennan, 
and  the  hounds,  getting  off  close  to  him,  hustled  him  away  in  the 
teeth  of  the  wind  by  Ballymacasey  and  Courtnacuddy  Plantations, 
thence  to  Castleboro',  Lord  Carew's  residence,  on  to  "  Kelly's 
Brow,"  where,  running  from  scent  to  view,  they  rolled  him  over 
after  a  race  of  thirty  minutes'  duration. 

The  Kildare  hounds  were  at  Kingswood  on  Friday,  the  2ist 
inst.  I  do  not  think  that  there  was  anything  very  exceptional  or 
worthy  of  special  notice  in  the  fact,  or  in  the  tumultuous  gathering 
together  of  an  enormous  crowd  of  the  most  heterogeneous 
character  at  this  most  uninteresting  rendezvous,  for  this  is  de  rlgle 


HIBERNIA    VENAT1CA.  307 

at  Kingswood ;  but  what  was  perhaps  peculiar  and  exceptional 
was  the  loveliness  and  dryness  of  the  day,  which  succeeded  a 
night  of  rain  and  storm — a  fact  attested  by  the  sea-gulls,  who  were 
contending  with  the  crows  for  the  early  worm  as  one  rode  to  the 
meet  Like  the  marines,  these  sagacious  birds  seem  equally  at 
home  on  land  and  sea;  and,  to  look  at  a  huge  flock  of  them 
walking  about  picking  up  their  breakfasts  in  a  green  field,  you 
would  never  fancy  them  equally  at  home  in  "  the  cradle  of  the 
deep  "  (whatever  that  poetic  phrase  may  mean)  or  in  the  trough  of 
a  yeasty  sea.  Yes ;  there  was  another  feature  in  the  programme, 
no  doubt  most  welcome  to  the  ball-goers,  and  that  was  that 
the  meet  was  put  off  till  11.30  a.m.  I  should  require  more 
columnar  space  than  you  could  allow  me  were  I  to  attempt  a 
catalogue  raisonn'ee  of  a  tithe  of  the  people  who  filled  the  road  for 
half  a  mile,  perhaps  more.  Mr.  O'Reilly's  coach,  fairly  freighted, 
caught  the  eye  ;  so  did  the  business-like  team  of  the  Inniskillings, 
and  Lord  Clonmell's  gay  steppers.  Colonel  Sarsfield  Green's  and 
Captain  and  Mrs.  Playfair's  phaetons  were  much  en  evidence  as 
they  were  drawn  up  by  Mr.  Walsh's  house,  to  whose  "interior" 
the  fraternity  of  sport  seemed  a  passport  which  required  neither 
endorsement  or  vise.  Let  me  mention  a  few  of  the  strangers  who 
honoured  this  tryst,  commencing  my  list  with  H.R.H.  the  Duke 
of  Connaught,  who  was,  I  think,  staying  at  Bishopscourt  (Lord 
Clonmell's)  with  a  large  party,  which  included  Lord  and  Lady 
Listowel,  Captain  and  Lady  Maria  Fitzclarence,  Colonel  Fraser, 
V.C.,  Mr.  Horace  Rochfort,  etc.  Captain  Fitzgerald,  the  Duke's 
equerry,  has  been  kept  from  the  hunting  field  for  some  weeks  by 
an  accident,  and  to-day  was  watching  proceedings  from  the 
pleasant  eminence  of  a  Malaga  pony,  who  was  one  of  the  neatest 
and  smartest  I  ever  saw.  If  Malaga  can  export  ponies  of  that 
stamp  as  well  as  raisins,  I  should  think  the  fact  would  soon  help 
the  Customs  dues,  as  polo  would  be  sure  to  become  generally 
popular  again  if  men  knew  where  to  get  the  right  sort  of  con- 
veyances at  reasonable  rates.  Among  the  ladies  riding  and 


3o8  HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI  C A. 

driving  were  Lady  Wallscourt,  Lady  Maria  Fitzclarence,  Lady 
Annette  La  Touche,  Mrs.  Forbes,  the  Misses  Higginson,  Mrs. 
Spencer  Lindsay  and  Miss  Lindsay,  Miss  O'C.  Morris,  Miss 
Champney,  Mrs.  Langrishe,  Mrs.  Bagot,  Mrs.  Franks  and  the 
Misses  La  Touche,  Miss  Walsh,  Mrs.  Moore,  Miss  Kirkpatrick, 
the  Misses  Beauman,  Mrs.  and  Miss  Tuthill,  Mrs.  Dent,  the  Misses 
Townsend — but  I  cannot  go  on  swelling  the  list.  Sufficient  to 
say  that  Dublin  was  there  on  horseback,  and  that  the  Garrison 
contributed  a  great  many  of  the  Rifle  Brigade,  the  Inniskillings,  and 
the  3rd  Dragoons.  The  Staff  was  represented  by  Lieut.-Colonel 
Johnson,  Captain  Graves  Sawle,  and  I  know  not  how  many  more, 
while  Newbridge  and  the  Curragh,  if  not  in  great  numbers,  were 
strong  in  Major  Dent  of  the  yth  Dragoons  and  Mr.  Knox  of  the 
R.H.A.  From  Wales  came  Lieut.-Colonel  Henry  Lindsay  to  his 
old  hunting  grounds. 

I  will  not  recapitulate  the  inevitable  and  dreary  features  of  the 
drawing  of  Belgard  Gorse,  unseen  as  it  is  within  a  high  old  deer- 
park  wall — the  wandering  about  in  groups  in  a  couple  of  ploughed 
fields  outside.  The  plough  was  drier  than  usual,  and  the  fox  more 
accommodating  than  his  wont,  for  he  broke  quickly  enough,  and 
ran  across  Dr.  E.  Kennedy's  fine  lawn.  The  one  hole  of  exit  in 
the  wall  was  jammed,  as  usual ;  but  the  fox  did  not  run  his  usual 
track — perhaps  it  had  become  monotonous.  He  turned  round 
Belgard,  and  trotted  over  that  beautiful  bit  of  level  vale  which 
separates  the  gorse  from  the  mountains.  There  was  no  scent  to 
press  him,  so  he  made  a  leisurely  ring  by  the  Rev.  Mr.  Robinson's 
place — here  I  saw  the  hon.  secretary  of  a  fashionable  hunt  in  what 
looked  for  the  moment  a  position  of  peril — and  got  into  a  drain 
not  far  from  his  starting-point. 

On  the  22nd  they  met  at  Gormanstown  Chapel,  centre  of  a 
fine  bit  of  surrounding  country.  From  Hatfield  Gorse  they  had 
a  slow  run  by  Tober  to  Grangebeg,  where  scent,  which  had  been 
flickering,  failed  altogether  To  this  succeeded  another  slow 
potter  from  Cryhelp  mountainwards.  The  evening  gallop  of  thirty- 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  309 

five  minutes  from  Copelands  was,  I  hear,  of  very  different  cha- 
racter— fast  and  sustained.  The  Duke  of  Connaught  was  among 
the  field,  which  was  a  large  one. 

Sport  continues  very  good  in  Westmeath.  I  think  I  sent  your 
readers  an  outline  of  a  fine  day's  sport  on  the  1 2th,  when  they  met 
at  Gaulston  Park  (Lord  Kilmaine's),  and  hunted  two  foxes  over 
fine  lines — the  first  by  Lemon  Grove  and  Enniscoffey,  by  Violets- 
town  and  Clonmoyle,  till  he  was  killed  after  a  brilliant  thirty-two 
minutes,  which  beat  the  field,  at  Plattstown,  near  Mullingar. 
While  he  was  being  broken  up  a  second  fox  went  away  from  a 
hedgerow,  taking  them  to  Gaybrook,  where  he  hung  a  bit,  thence 
over  Bush  Hill,  through  Dunboden  and  Morrogh,  till  he  ran  them 
out  of  scent. 

On  the  1 4th  they  were  at  Mosstown,  and  unfortunately  chopped 
a  fox  in  the  stick  covert.  From  Lunestown  they  raced  into  a 
second  as  he  was  gaining  Glencara  Covert,  and  had  a  slow  hunting 
ring  from  the  last-named  fox-haunt  by  Mount  Dalton. 

On  the  1 6th  they  found  foxes  abounding  at  Cooksboro'  and 
Knockdrin,  but  scent  was  too  feeble  to  do  much  good  with  them. 

On  the  i  Qth  they  met  at  Gartlandstown  Bridge,  and  found  a 
brace  at  Knock  Ion,  but  could  not  do  much  in  the  way  of  hunting 
them.  Hope's  Gorse  held  two,  one  of  which  was  sent  along  by 
Barbavilla  to  Clondaliver,  where  he  got  to  ground.  The  last  few 
minutes  of  this  race  were  fastv  The  Crooked  Wood  supplied  a 
fox,  but  he  got  to  ground  quickly. 

On  Wednesday,  the  2ist,  they  met  at  Rathconrath,  and  found 
nothing  in  Justown  Gorse  but  a  stale  drag.  Glencara  held  a  good 
fox,  and  they  raced  him  into  Grieve  without  a  check,  leaving 
Lunestown  on  the  left ;  here  he  hung  for  a  short  time,  then  broke 
for  Jamestown,  crossed  the  railway  pointing  for  Ballyhast ;  but,  turn- 
ing leftwards,  he  was  presently  rolled  over  in  the  open  by  James- 
town Bridge,  after  one  hour  and  five  minutes.  Some  slow  hunting 
from  Lunestown  towards  Crissaun  filled  in  the  rest  of  the  day. 

The  chief  events   of  the  past  week — I   mean  in  our  little 


310  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

microcosm  of  hunting — have  been  a  capital  day's  sport  on 
Thursday  last  with  the  Meath  hounds,  when  they  met  at  the 
master's  park,  Allenstown.  I  say  a  good  day's  sport ;  for  there 
was  a  bill  of  fare  for  all,  and  suitable  to  all  tastes.  Any  amount 
of  hound  work  in  the  forenoon  about  Allenstown,  in  the  shape  of 
a  protracted  chase,  which  ended  in  marking  their  fox  to  ground  on 
the  banks  of  the  railway  between  Ballybeg  and  Kells.  Then  there 
was  galloping,  jumping,  and  hunting  to  please  all  in  a  good  bit  of 
twisty  run  from  Rathmore  Gorse  to  Tullaghnogue,  through  it,  on  to 
near  Meadstown,  till  the  fox  ran  them  out  of  scent  near  Kilbride. 
Philpotstown  was  now  drawn  by  way  of  a  wind-up,  and  a  most 
thoroughly  successful  one  it  proved,  its  tenant  giving  what  some 
consider  the  run  of  the  season ;  but  as  the  run  of  the  season,  unless 
it  be  so  exceptionally  brilliant  as  to  overshadow  all  possible  com- 
parison, is  a  very  debatable  point,  a  Pandora's  box  among  the 
hard-riding  division,  I  will  only  say  that  men  whom  I  consider 
very  competent  judges  (for  I  did  not  see  it,  unfortunately),  laud  it 
as  a  very  high-class  performance.  Tullyard  was  the  first  covert 
touched  till  they  came  to  Trim  station,  and  here  there  was  a  check 
for  a  bit,  the  fox  having  entered  a  sewer,  from  which  he  was 
presently  ejected ;  and  from  this  point  he  was  hunted  along  the 
river  Boyne  up  to  the  New  Haggard  Mills,  where  he  turned  for 
Trimleston  Gorse,  and  was  not  disturbed  in  his  sanctuary. 

Mr.  George  Brook's  harriers  had  a  very  pleasant  day's  sport 
in  the  fine  country  near  the  Mause  border  land,  or  rather  on  the 
confines  of  Meath  and  Kildare ;  but  the  run  that  I  hear  most 
talked  of  was  thirty-two  minutes  with  the  Bellinter  harriers  when 
Mr.  Preston  brought  them,  in  compliment  to  Lord  Rossmore  and 
his  party,  to  the  neighbourhood  of  Culmullen,  and  -ran  a  straight- 
necked  hare  to  Kilcarty  Gorse.  Of  the  Bellinter  uniform  I  think 
I  have  written  before.  On  this  occasion  Lord  Rossmore  and  his 
sister,  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  and  I  know  not  how  many  more, 
turned  out  in  the  green  livery  of  his  lordship's  private  pack.  It 
was  "  the  wearing  of  the  green  "  on  a  grand  scale  ! 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  3n 

Having,  owing  to  an  accident,  to  leave  Kingswood  and  its 
neighbourhood  after  the  first  run  yesterday,  I  only  learnt  the 
events  of  the  evening  to-day  (Saturday).  They  were  on  this  wise  : 
The  Belgard  fox  left  his  drain  of  his  own  accord,  the  hounds  were 
clapped  on  to  him,  and  a  fair  hunting  run  of  many  tumbling 
incidents,  and  thirty  minutes,  ending  at  the  inevitable  Greenhills, 
was  the  result  of  this  meritorious  proceeding  on  his  part.  Then 
followed  a  long  jog-trot  to  Loughtown,  Miss  Gould's  Gorse  (some 
particulars  about  which  I  wrote  a  few  weeks  ago),  the  field  being 
considerably  reduced  in  numbers  by  this  time.  A  secluded  spot, 
a  run  from  it,  if  it  be  tenanted  as  it  has  ever  been  in  my  ex- 
perience, is  almost  inevitable.  This  evening's  chase  was  an 
exceptionally  good  one  ;  I  can  only  glance  at  it  just  now.  From 
Loughtown  to  Gastlebagot  is  about  two  and  a  half  miles  over  green 
fields,  thence  to  the  Garter  stables  on  the  Naas  road  some  two 
more.  Thence  over  the  old  Tallaght  racecourse,  a  beautiful  track, 
to  a  point  near  Killakee — I  believe  the  exact  spot  is  Mount  Pelion 
— and  here  they  rolled  him  over,  after  a  fast  hour  and  ten  minutes. 

On  Saturday  half  Ireland  that  affects  hunting  met  the  Meath 
hounds  at  "the  Hatchet."  Fortunately,  the  third  covert  drawn, 
Pratt's  Gorse,  was  a  success,  and  its  fox  led  the  huge  field  at  a 
break-neck  pace  for  some  three  miles  over  a  very  stiff  grass  line 
to  Moynalvey  cross-road,  when  he  disappeared,  and  was  wholly 
unaccounted  for.  Beltrasna  Gorse,  the  fourth  visited,  was  also 
tenanted  by  a  good  sort  of  fox,  who  broke  with  the  very  slightest 
pressing,  and  ran  a  beautiful  line  to  the  Summerhill  road,  thence 
to  the  verge  of  Larch  Hill,  to  Mulhussey  Gorse,  through  it,  and 
into  Colistown  Covert,  where  a  considerate  earth-stopper  or 
covert-keeper  let  him  into  the  newly  made  earths. 

H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught  was  out  to-day,  and  going 
well ;  so  were  several  of  the  strangers  present ;  and  if,  after  to- 
day's experience,  they  sigh  for  greater  pace  or  wider  fencing,  I  fear 
they  will  share  the  fate  of  the  tres  difficiles,  who  are  rarely  pleased 
and  never  contented. 


3i2  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

I  crave  space !  I  believe  I  have  occupied  much !  Like 
Oliver,  I  ask  for  more.  The  theme  justifies  it — the  stoutest  and 
straightest  fox  that  has  stood  up  this  season  for  twelve  statute 
miles  before  a  gallant  pack  ere  he  met  his  doom  !  I  will  con- 
dense as  much  as  I  can,  merely  remarking  that  a  very  high 
tribute  was  paid  to  Irish  hunting  and  Irish  country  last  Friday 
by  an  old  Staff-man — a  good  rider  and  a  feather  weight,  who  sees 
some  of  the  best  things  in  England,  and  speaks  with  some 
connaissancc  de  cause.  He  saw  the  first  run  from  Belgard  well,  the 
early  part  of  which  was  execrably  slow,  owing  to  a  difficulty  in 
getting  the  hounds  over  the  park  wall ;  the  second  part  was  over 
a  good  line  at  steady  pace,  but  not  what  would  be  called  a  very 
good  line.  Yet  so  enraptured  was  my  friend  by  the  country  and 
the  pack,  that  he  wrote  to  me  to  say  it  was  about  the  best  thing 
he  had  seen  this  year.  Now,  when  the  Belgard  fox  was  disposed 
of .  subterraneously,  many  went  home,  Dublin  being  temptingly 
near;  others  never  saw  it,  having  gone  on  to  the  vicinity  of  the 
second  expected  draw  (bad  form  always),  and,  after  waiting  there 
some  time,  got  tired  of  the  process>  and  made  a  short  day  of  it. 
So  it  was  well-nigh  four  o'clock  when  Mr.  E.  Mansfield  put  the 
hounds  into  Pea  Mount,  when  two  foxes  were  on  foot.  Five 
couples  broke  with  one ;  the  rest  followed  presently  over  the 
road,  which  the  hero  of  my  tale  (the  tale  of  a  brush)  crossed 
resolutely  undaunted  by  the  Lords  and  Commons,  the  fair  women 
and  brave  men  who  lined  it.  His  point  was  Killakee  ;  from  this 
he  never  swerved,  kept  the  middle  of  the  large  grass  pastures  he 
crossed  en  route,  and  never  ran  fence  or  hedgerow  even  when 
sinking  !  Through  Castlebagot  he  sweeps,  never  diverging  to  the 
inviting  gorse  two  fields  to  his  right ;  hounds  carry  a  great 
head,  and  there  was  never  a  check  or  pause  till  the  Garter  stables 
are  reached.  Here  the  fox  had  been  slightly  turned  by  two 
rustics,  but  the  pack  swung  on  to  him  directly,  crossed  the  Dublin 
road,  and  never  dwelt  an  instant  till  a  ploughed  field  was  reached ; 
then  there  was  a  momentary  delay,  and  most  of  the  field  retired 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  313 

homewards.  The  line,  however,  was  very  quickly  recovered ;  the 
fine  grass  lands  of  Kingswood  are  raced  over,  Belgard  Gorse, 
close  by,  being  wholly  ignored  by  our  fugitive ;  and  now  the 
Dodder  is  reached  (and,  to  mark  the  locality,  I  may  say  the  old 
Bawn  Mills  are  on  the  right  of  our  track).  The  far  bank  is 
guarded  by  a  high  wall  with  one  single  practicable  spot,  and  that 
is  wired.  In  vain  does  a  gallant  and  hon.  major,  like  another 
Samson  Agonistes,  shake  the  supports  ;  they  will  not  yield.  And 
now  comes  up  Will  Freeman,  with  a  horse  lent  him  by  Mr.  W. 
Blacker,  who  unselfishly  gave  up  pursuit  (second  horses  had  been 
missed) ;  but  his  trusty  wire-cutter  is  not  in  the  saddle-tree. 
Mr.  Percy  La  Touche,  Mr.  R.  Walshe,  jun.,  and  a  stranger,  got 
over  lower  down,  but  are  again  wire-caged.  Somehow  or  other, 
these  wire  coils  are  got  over  or  round  by  something  short  of  a 
dozen  men,  among  whom  were  the  master,  Mr.  Mansfield,  Major 
the  Hon.  E.  Lawless,  Mr.  Percy  La  Touche,  Mr.  R.  Walshe, 
Mr.  R.  Kennedy,  the  huntsman,  and  a  visitor  or  two.  Light  was 
waning  fast,  when  shouts  of  exultation  greeted  the  ears  of  this 
small  band  of  strugglers.  Two  countrymen  had  seen  this  good 
fox  rolled  over  in  the  open.  For  line,  straightness,  and  decision 
I  do  not  think  this  hunting  episode  can  be  surpassed  in  these 
three  kingdoms  this  season.  In  the  twelve  miles  I  hear  only  a 
single  heavy-riding  field  was  crossed,  and  when  the  Dodder 
difficulty  was  reached  the  riders  saw  a  single  hound,  thirty  yards 
in  front  of  the  pack,  racing  like  a  greyhound.  The  hounds,  I 
should  add,  were  only  "  touched  "  once.  For  a  comparison  men 
go  back  to  the  great  Laragh  run  of  fourteen  Irish  miles,  ending  in 
a  kill  in  the  heart  of  Meath,  which  happened  years  ago,  when 
Lord  Mayo,  then  Lord  Naas,  was  at  the  head  of  the  pack. 

Sport  has  been  again  propitious  to  Louth  ;  a  good  twenty-two 
minutes  on  the  2ist,  from  Skedog,  by  Shalip  and  Drakestown,  to 
ground  in  Carracon ;  twelve  minutes  fast  from  Tenure  to  Collon, 
to  ground ;  and  forty-five  minutes  afterwards  into  Townley  Hall, 
where  the  fugitive  was  bolted. 


3i4  HIBERNIA    VENAT1CA. 

On  the  23rd  a  racing  seventeen  minutes  from  Ballymead,  by 
Tilltown,  Smithstown,  and  Rockbellew,  to  Corfe  Hill,  where  they 
rolled  their  fox  over.  Then  a  find  in  Greenhills,  a  ring,  and  a 
scurry  by  Irishtown  to  Gormanstown  station,  where  the  fox  took 
to  the  line,  and  the  pack  were  stopped  with  difficulty  when  the 
mid-day  train  from  Dublin  was  just  behind  them.  Curious,  that 
much  the  same  thing  occurred  on  the  8th  inst.  !  They  had  had 
forty  minutes  up  to  this  of  very  good  hunting. 

From  Cork  come  reports  of  fine  sport.  The  best  chase  was 
from  Castle  Lyons,  but  "  good  things  "  emanated  from  Lisgrimlan, 
Newtown,  and  Dunkettle.  The  committee  propose  continuing 
the  status  quo  next  season,  if  no  suitable  master  turns  up  in  the 
mean  time.  But  the  bait  of  eleven  or  twelve  hundred  a  year  for 
three  days  a  week,  with  hounds,  kennels,  lodging,  etc.,  found,  and 
a  country  kept,  seems  far  too  tempting  to  allow  me  to  think  that 
the  United  Hunt  will  remain  masterless  much  longer.  Mr.  T. 
Montgomery  and  Mr.  Morgan  Smith,  who  met  hunting  accidents 
lately  in  these  regions,  are  progressing  most  favourably. 

I  have  omitted  perforce  several  days'  hunting  in  Meath, 
notably  the  iQth,  when,  after  killing  a  brace  of  foxes  at  Bellinter 
and  Dowdestown,  they  ran  one  to  ground  from  Lismullen,  and 
stopped  the  pack  when  hunting  their  fourth  fox.  Other  hunting 
episodes  I  must  postpone  or  pass  over. 


HIBERNIA    YEN  ATI C A.  315 


XXI. 

"  'Tis  a  fine  hunting  day,  and  as  balmy  as  May, 
And  the  hounds  to  the  village  have  come." 


' '  The  Hatchet  " — Beltrasna  burst — Swainstown — Carlow  and 
Kilkenny — Maynooth. 

I  HOPE  I  shall  not  raise  a  tempest  of  indignant  contradictions 
when  I  say  that  the  hunting  grounds  of  Ireland  par  excellence — 
such  as,  I  think,  any  stranger  unaffected  by  local  prejudices  would 
choose — are  the  two  great  valleys  of  the  Liffey  and  the  Boyne,  with 
their  many  tributaries,  such  as  the  Rye,  the  Nanny,  the  Hurley,  the 
Blackwater,  the  Tolka,  etc.  No  part  of  Ireland,  I  think,  presents 
such  wide  horizons  of  level  pasture  lands,  unbroken  by  mountain 
ridges  or  marred  for  hunting  purposes  by  interjections  of  peat  and 
bog.  A  cattle  tract  mainly,  the  holdings  are  far  larger  than  in 
other  parts  of  the  island ;  and  as  are  the  holdings,  so  are  the  fields 
and  the  fences  which  bound  them.  Some  three  or  four  lines  of 
railway  only,  at  intervals  of  ten  or  a  dozen  miles  apart,  cut  through 
these  valleys.  The  land  is  far  too  valuable  to  be  covered  with 
much  timber,  so  that,  dotted  as  it  is  with  good  gorses  every  three 
or  four  miles,  fast  gallops  seem  to  be  a  corollary  from  the  situation 
itself.  Of  course  this  very  wide  area  is  not  equal  in  all  its  parts 
for  hunting  purposes ;  round  a  few  favoured  spots  parks  and  villas 
cluster,  with  their  plantations  and  shrubberies. 

A  railway  or  canal  spoils  the  perfect  symmetry  of  another 
locality.     The  spot  to  which  I  propose  to  transport  my  readers 


316  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

to-day  has  no  such  vices  of  situation.  A  solitary  thatched  public- 
house,  of  the  genuine  old  Irish  peasant  architecture  of  the  better 
type,  much  frequented  by  hauliers  on  their  journey  from  Dum- 
boyne  to  Summerhill,  or  from  the  latter  place  to  Dublin,  it  stands 
quite  alone  on  the  roadside,  commanding  some  cross-roads,  sur- 
rounded on  all  sides  by  acres  upon  acres  of  the  most  luxuriant 
and  level  pastures.  The  shriek  of  the  locomotive  whistle  is  heard 
at  a  respectable  distance  of  five  or  six  miles ;  Maynooth,  the 
nearest  village,  is  five  miles  off.  The  parks  of  Carton  and 
Summerhill  flank  it,  but  at  a  long  distance ;  while  the  woods  of 
Killeen  and  Dunsany  Castles  are  fully  six  or  seven  miles  to  the 
north'ard,  I  should  say.  Such  are  the  surroundings  of  "  the 
Hatchet,"  where  the  Meath  hounds  met  their  clientele  and  the 
general  public  on  Saturday,  February  24th.  A  dark,  gloomy 
morning  it  was  too  !  the  rain  coming  down  copiously,  while  the 
sombre,  murky  horizon  seemed  to  portend  a  continuance  of  rain- 
fall for  the  entire  hunting  day.  I  believe  the  assizes  had  some- 
thing to  do  with  the  fixture,  and  its  substitution  for  some  other. 
Whatever  cause,  remote  or  proximate,  led  to  its  insertion  on  the 
Meath  card,  let  us  be  thankful  for  the  alteration.  Let  us  hope  for 
a  repetition,  if  it  leads  to  such  pleasant  results  as  were  vouchsafed 
us  to-day. 

Yesterday's  meet  at  Kingswood  was,  if  we  look  at  it  in  that 
point  of  view,  a  splendid  homage  of  the  polloi,  leavened  by  a  fair 
proportion  of  the  aristoi,  to  the  majesty  of  hunting — a  willing 
offering  of  the  crowd  at  the  shrine  of  the  great  goddess  Diana. 
To-day's  meet  was  far  smaller  and  more  select ;  there  was  no 
railway  invasion,  no  procession  of  coaches  and  carriages  like 
a  rehearsal  of  the  Park,  no  ambiguous  sportsmen  and  sports- 
women; none  of  the  pic-nicing  out-for-the-day  element.  It  was 
all  hunting  pure  and  simple,  with  the  exception  of  two  or  three 
carriages  which  drove  to  the  trysting-place,  and  disappeared  soon 
afterwards.  There  was  a  small  army  of  pad-grooms  and  second 
horsemen,  with  their  charges,  round  "  the  Hatchet ; "  and  in  this 


HIBERNIA   YEN  ATI C A.  317 

department  of  hunting  I  must  say  no  county  in  Ireland  within  my 
ken  at  all  approaches  Meath  as  it  is  this  season.  The  rain  began 
to  moderate  about  half-past  eleven,  the  easy  hour  of  assembly,  and 
by  the  time  we  were  fairly  under  way  to  the  first  draw — Colistown 
— the  day  had  not  only  become  fine,  but  had  toned  down  into  an 
atmosphere  very  warm,  pleasant,  and  promising.  Colistown  is 
very  young  of  growth,  and  to-day  'tis  empty ;  so  is  the  next  gorse, 
Mulhussey,  overlooked  by  the  quaint  ruins  of  a  semi-ancient  keep. 
The  third,  Garradice  or  Pratt's  Gorse,  brings  us  a  fox,  who, 
spite  of  the  thick  jungle  in  which  he  kennelled,  broke  away  with 
very  little  pressing,  and  began  a  course  towards  Summerhill, 
introducing  us  to  an  initial  double,  overgrown  with  gorse  and 
briars,  where  Lords  and  Commons  and  their  mounts  were  strug- 
gling away  presently  in  what  Geoffry  Gambado  calls  hippopiptic 
attitudes ;  but  this  reminds  me  that  I  have  not  said  a  word  about 
the  personnel  of  our  fields.  As  we  were  going  to  Colistown  we  met 
the  Bishopscourt  break  and  its  four  horses,  in  which  were  H.R.H. 
the  Duke  of  Connaught  and  Captain  Fitzgerald,  the  Earl  of  Clon- 
mell,  Colonels  Fraser  and  Forster,  Lord  Listowel,  Mr.  Percy  La 
Touche,  Mr.  D.  Mahoney.  Kildare  found  representatives  in  Lord 
Cloncurry,  Mr.  C.  Hamilton,  Mr.  E.  Mansfield,  Captain  and  Mrs. 
Davis,  Mr.  W.  Forbes,  and  others.  The  Queen's  County  sent 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Adair;  Westmeath  its  former  M.F.H.,  Mr.  Mac- 
donald  Moreton,  and  Captain  Roden.  The  Culmullen  party 
contributed  Lords  Rossmore  and  Francis  Lennox,  Captain  and 
the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  and  Miss  Lloyd.  War's  image  would  not 
be  perfect  without  a  major-general,  and  here  is  Major-General 
Herbert,  with  about,  or  even  more  than,  half-a-dozen  aides-de-camp 
of  the  Garrison  and  Castle,  including  Captains  J.  M'Calmont, 
Lord  Clanmorris,  Captains  Beecher,  Colthurst,  Crosbie,  Pratt, 
Saunders,  and  Kearney.  The  Inniskillings  contributed  Captain 
Ward  Bennett  and  others;  the  3rd  Dragoons  Messrs.  Dundas, 
Wardrop,  and  Yatman ;  while  from  the  metropolis  came  a  number 
of  Ward  Union  men,  Messrs.  Coppinger,  Hone,  Thompson,  and 


318  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

Jameson ;  and  Cavan  sent  a  master  of  stag-hounds  in  Mr.  Hum- 
phreys. Needless  to  say,  Meath  was  in  the  field  in  great  numbers, 
including  the  strangers  within  its  gates,  who  had  become  glcba 
addicti  from  the  love  of  hunting,  such  as  Lord  Howth,  Mr. 
Dunville,  Colonel  Fraser,  Captain  Peter  Lowe,  etc.  Without  going 
further  into  names,  I  think  I  have  said  enough  to  satisfy  the  most 
sceptical  that  this  was  a  very  representative  assemblage  of  hunting 
men — as  good  a  gallery  of  experts  as  any  M.F.H.  could  wish  for. 
Forty  or  fifty  men  well  over  the  frowning  double  I  have  alluded 
to,  with  huge  green  fields  in  front,  the  prospect  before  us  is  very 
pleasing.  But  what  is  this  ?  The  hounds  recross  this  unpleasant 
barrier,  and  we  must  follow  them,  for  there  seems  no  pleasant  path 
round  it.  The  hounds  are  running,  straining,  sailing,  whatever 
metaphor  pleases  you  best ;  but  certainly  they  are  going  very  fast. 
A  few  small  inclosures  past — not  the  least  of  the  Meath  type — 
and  we  enter  the  lands  of  Clonlyon,  Mr.  Purdon's  residence,  and 
then  come  four  or  five  large  fences,  productive  of  a  certain  amount 
of  grief.  We  are  now  at  Moynalvy  cross-roads,  of  Ward  Union 
celebrity.  We  have  come  very  fast  for  a  couple  of  miles,  or 
perhaps  more ;  but  we  have  lost  our  fox,  who  either  lay  down  or 
ran  the  road  towards  Summerhill.  At  any  rate,  casting  forwards 
or  casting  backwards  avails  nothing ;  so  we  trot  on  to  Beltrasna 
Gorse,  where  a  few  acres  of  strong  covert,  set  in  a  grass  prairie, 
afford  promise  of  a  good  gallop,  so  only  a  good  fox  be  on  the 
premises.  Away  he  goes,  the  red  rover,  pointing  probably  for 
Garradice,  where  we  have  just  been,  and  away  we  go  as  fast  as 
spurred  horses  can  take  us  to  the  big  dyke  or  brook  which  inter- 
venes 'twixt  us  and  the  pack.  It  is  wide  enough,  but  has  sloping 
banks,  and  that  means  much  to  a  trained  Irish  hunter.  I  heard  of 
a  subsidence  or  two — one  certainly — but  I  saw  none.  There  is 
a  momentary  pause  on  the  far  side,  but  only  of  a  few  seconds,  and 
then,  led  by  a  black-and-white  bitch,  the  pack  are  presently 
stretched  at  their  very  best.  Soon  we  come  to  a  road  with  rather 
a  drop  into  it,  and  the  way  out  appears  to  be  over  a  small  wall ; 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  319 

so  think  the  field  who  are  up,  and  of  course  a  few  seconds  of 
delay  are  scored  to  the  bad.  Mr.  Trotter,  on  our  left,  has  avoided 
this  by  picking  his  path  over  a  quickset  fence,  and  a  lead  of  more 
than  a  field  is  the  consequence.  Then  comes  a  second  road,  and 
in  the  adjoining  field  a  very  high  up-fence  ;  and  now  hounds 
s\ving  a  bit  to  the  left,  giving  the  less  advanced,  who  had  not 
diverged  to  the  right  too  far,  a  considerable  pull.  Now  we  are  on 
the  verge  of  Larch  Hill  lands ;  but  the  hounds  won't  favour  us 
on  the  right  a  bit — they  are  hugging  the  left  all  the  way.  It  has 
been  a  race  up  to  here,  and  not  a  slow  one  at  all ;  and  now  comes 
the  ugly  feature.  In  a  beautiful  valley  between  the  undulations  of 
the  Mullagh  and  Larch  Hill  is  a  bit  of  rather  swampy  land,  and 
through  this  flows  or  stagnates  a  drain  of  uncertain  bottom 
and  depth,  with  a  high  rotten-looking  bank  on  the  far  side.  It  is 
only  pleasantly  jumped  or  scrambled  over  in  one  or  two  spots, 
I  think  ;  if  these  are  missed,  a  flounder  or  fall  is  almost  inevitable, 
and  men  and  horses  did  both.  Less  than  a  dozen,  I  believe,  got 
over  satisfactorily.  Those  who  knew  the  topography  generally 
avoided  it,  I  fancy,  as  it  was  not  hard  to  do  before  you  had  ridden 
to  the  swamp.  The  line  is  now  on  to  Mulhussey  Gorse,  when 
a  check  occurs ;  then  on  to  the  neighbouring  covert  of  Colistown, 
which  we  had  visited  ineffectually  that  morning.  Who-whoop  ! 
who-whoop  !  The  main  earths  here  have  been  considerately 
opened  by  some  fox  friend  ;  our  run  is  over  ;  but  for  four  miles  it 
was  as  fast  and  sustained  as  could  be  desired,  the  last  hounds 
never  able  to  come  up  to  the  leaders.  To  see  anything  at  all  you 
must  ride  ;  so  I  think  nearly  everybody  rode — and,  if  they  rode  at 
all,  rode  hard,  for  the  fences  were  large  and  the  pace  was  very 
good.  Two  ladies  went  well  part  of  the  distance.  A  lady  on 
a  clever  strawberry  roan  hunter  was  brilliantly  carried  for  some 
time,  and  was  quite  in  the  front  rank.  H.R.H.,  undeterred  by 
rather  an  unpleasant  collision  the  day  before,  was  going  brilliantly, 
and  what  helped  riders  much  was  the  fact  of  the  inclination  of  the 
ground  being  in  their  favour. 


320  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

On  Monday  morning,  those  who  kept  country  hours — shall 
I  say  hunting  hours  ? — saw  a  sheen  of  white  crisp  snow  over  the 
face  of  nature.  It  had  rained  and  blustered  through  the  night, 
and  towards  morning  snow  took  the  place  of  rain ;  but  an  un- 
wontedly  gorgeous  sun  was  riding  in  the  heavens,  and  long  before 
noon  the  day  became  like  that  "lusty  winter"  which  Adam,  the 
pattern  old-time  servitor  in  "  As  You  Like  It,"  likened  his  age 
unto — "frosty  but  kindly."  The  Ward  Union  men,  whose 
previous  Saturday  was  not  so  brilliant  in  its  events  as  recent  runs 
almost  warrant  one  in  expecting,  mustered  in  considerable  force  at 
Culmullen,  and,  enlarging  near  the  house,  had  a  very  fine  run 
at  fair  pace  past  Mulhussey  Castle,  and  on  to  Newtown,  near 
Kilcock,  where  they  gained  a  view  and  pressed  their  deer  so  hard 
that  he  bounded  on  to  the  roof  of  a  cottage,  from  which  curious 
eminence  he  was  dislodged  by  the  exertions  of  a  popular  captain, 
lately  in  command  of  a  troop  of  the  8th  Hussars,  giving  a  capital 
run  afterwards  by  Moyglare  and  Maynooth — altogether  voted  by 
the  company  out  a  fine  day's  sport,  and  in  a  country  where  even 
moderate  sport  is  more  enjoyable  than  faster  and  more  spirited 
gallops  elsewhere. 

On  Tuesday  the  snow  of  the  previous  day  was  replaced  by  a 
hard  white  frost  and  rime  everywhere.  The  wind  was  northerly, 
and  "most  forbiddingly  keen;"  but  there  was  promise  of  a  very 
fine  day,  and  so  it  turned  out.  The  Meath  hounds  were  at 
Swainstown,  a  meet  whose  surroundings  I  have  already  attempted 
to  describe  for  your  readers ;  and,  as  they  have  not  changed  in  the 
least,  I  will  only  add  that  the  picture  most  appreciated  apparently 
by  crowds  of  cold  and  hungry  hunters  was  not  the  panorama  of 
wood,  vale,  and  hill,  which  the  sun  was  lighting  up  just  now,  but 
rather  a  warm  interior,  such  as  Dutch  painters  delighted  in :  the 
gleam  of  silver,  contrasted  with  the  ruby,  golden,  and  brown  tints 
of  waning  decanters,  and  the  glow  of  a  comforting  fire.  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Preston,  the  hosts,  bid  the  many  visitors  a  hearty  welcome, 
and  the  large  party  from  Dublin  and  its  Castle,  including  Lord 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  321 

Randolph  Churchill,  Lieut-Colonel  Forster,  Captains  M'Calmont, 
Colthurst,  Becher,  Beresford,  Kearney,  Graves  Sawle,  etc.,  seemed 
to  appreciate  the  welcome  quarter  of  an  hour  after  their  frigid  and 
slow  journey  by  train  thither.  It  was  a  large  meet,  and  a  very 
pretty  meet,  and  a  good  many  men  from  other  hunts  attended  it. 
The  show  of  purple  and  white  leather  was  creditable.  The  dis- 
play of  fur  and  furbelows  proves  that  what  they  call  in  the  papers 
"  the  female  vote  "  in  Meath  is  given  to  fox-hunting.  We  cannot 
now  dwell  on  these  interesting  themes;  the  hounds  are  drawing 
Swainstown  Woods,  but  they  draw  them  to-day  in  vain.  We  now 
come  by  a  short  cut — a  long  one  to  a  gallant  captain  who  parted 
with  his  mount  at  an  up-bank  which  had  to  be  jumped  willy-nilly 
— to  the  fine  wooded  reaches  of  Killeen  and  Dunsany  Castles, 
extending  our  researches  even  to  the  hill  of  Glaine,  which  seemed 
full  of  foxes  last  time  we  were  here.  To-day  they  have  migrated 
lower  down  apparently,  for  out  of  one  of  the  Dunsany  plantations 
jumps  a  vulp,  crosses  the  Meath  line,  and  sets  the  large  field  in 
rapid  motion  to  the  nearest  bridge,  then  up  the  grassy  hill  of 
Glaine,  from  which  the  eye  catches  sight  of  a  fine  hunting  country, 
open  and  woodless.  We  are  not  to  traverse  it  to-day,  for  our  fox 
turned  back  to  the  woods  very  soon,  and  was  lost  or  put  to  ground. 
Killeen  Woods  and  Killeen  Gorse  do  not  hold  to-day ;  so,  passing 
through  Smithstown,  we  come  to  a  well-shrubbed  clump  of  trees, 
known,  I  believe,  in  hunting  diaries  as  the  Gerrardstown  Laurels, 
and  these  soon  quivered  with  music.  The  hounds  started,  I  think, 
very  near  their  fox ;  they  ran  him  merrily  and  musically  over  a  few 
very  wide  grass  fields  in  the  wind's  eye,  but  he  got  to  ground  in 
a  rabbit  burrow.  Our  next  fox  turned  up  in  Gerrardstown  Gorse. 
The  short  spin  had  put  the  horses'  coats  straight — I  mean  down,  if 
nothing  else.  There  was  very  little  fencing ;  but  at  a  blind  place 
a  raking  bay  mare,  whose  fine  striding  action  I  admired,  gave  a 
good  sportsman  a  nasty  fall,  and  very  nearly  a  mouthful  of  teeth. 
From  Gerrardstown  followed  a  pottering  ring,  remarkable  in 
nothing  save  in  one  rather  newly  constructed  double  towards 

Y 


322  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

Reisk  Gorse,  which  I  would  advise  your  readers,  if  ever  in  these 
parts,  not  to  attempt  unless  they  are  on  a  hunter  of  some  ex- 
perience. Whether  scent  improved  in  the  next  exodus  of  this  fox 
from  Gerrardstown,  I  cannot  say,  as  I  had  a  lame  horse,  and  a  long 
walk  before  me.  I  should  think  not ;  for  in  those  splendid  grass 
fields,  which  we  acupunctured  plentifully  with  our  hunters'  hoofs 
— it  is  said  to  be  a  good  cure  for  moss  in  land — scent  ought  to  be 
present,  if  at  all  existent.  I  heard  that  they  went  on  in  the  evening 
to  Corbalton,  found  a  fox  there,  and  took  him  along  very  sharply 
into  Gerrardstown.  The  distance  is  not  very  long. 

Baytown  was  the  meeting-place  of  the  Ward  Union  bounds  on 
Wednesday  last,  and  the  cross-roads  next  the  house  which  bears 
the  high-sounding  title  were  full  of  black  and  red  horsemen, 
moving  about  from  a  quarter  past  one  o'clock.  Among  them  were 
not  a  few  of  the  Meath  fox-hunters,  including  Mr.  Trotter,  Lord 
Rossmore,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Lord  Langford, 
Miss  Loyd,  Mr.  Murphy  of  the  Grange,  and  the  Messrs.  Hone ; 
while  from  Kildare  came  Lord  Cloncurry,  Captain  and  Mrs.  Davis, 
Mr.  Hanaway.  The  Garrison  contributed  a  small  detachment  of 
the  Rifle  Brigade,  Captain  Bagot,  the  Hon.  L.  White,  Mr.  Cross, 
etc ;  while  the  Guards,  the  Inniskillings,  the  3rd,  and  the  Staff 
were  represented.  Add  a  large  assemblage  of  the  regular  Ward 
Union  men,  who  seldom  miss  a  day  with  this  pack,  and  it  will  be 
seen  that  Mr.  Turbitt,  the  acting  master,  had  a  very  fair-sized 
army  to  command.  The  day  was  voted  generally  the  most 
decidedly  unambiguously  fine  day  which  the  season  has  vouch- 
safed us  so  far.  There  had  been  a  sharp  frost  of  white  complexion 
during  the  night,  and,  indeed,  during  the  entire  day  it  was  freezing 
hard  in  the  shade  ;  but  the  air  was  light  and  buoyant,  the  sun  was 
darting  his  rays  all  round,  and  the  vault  of  heaven  was  high.  A 
thoroughly  enjoyable  afternoon,  and  the  surcharged  fields  were 
rejoicing  in  the  dryness  and  absorption  of  the  superfluous 
moisture  which  has  pressed  on  them  all  the  year.  Trotting  past 
Vesington — the  general  point  of  enlargement  for  a  Baytown  meet 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  323 

— we  come  in  a  line  with  Crookstown,  and  here  the  hounds  were 
put  on,  and  commenced  running  fast  towards  Mr.  Barry's  farm, 
then  across  the  Dunboyne  road  towards  the  parsonage  of  Rath- 
regan,  and  on  to  Mr.  Allen's  grass  expanses.  Presently  we  view 
our  red  deer  encircled  by  a  pack  of  furious  colleys,  with  a  terrier 
among  them.  It  seems  she  had  been  harried  since  the  start  by 
these  brutes,  and  every  field  she  crossed  seemed  likely  to  swell  the 
number.  Of  course  this  spoilt  the  run,  just  as  we  were  emerging 
into  a  lovely  bit  of  country,  and  a  capture  was  luckily  soon  made. 
Now,  granting  that  one  colley,  say  two  colley  dogs,  are  a  necessity 
to  every  grass  farm,  surely  the  herds  might  be  enjoined  to  keep 
them  at  home  in  kennel  or  by  their  sides  during  the  hours  when 
the  stag-hounds  are  likely  to  be  in  the  neighbourhood — in  the 
neighbourhood,  at  any  rate,  of  the  enlargement  The  owners  of 
the  farms  are,  I  believe,  most  favourable  and  friendly  to  the  Ward 
Union  hounds.  As  for  a  good  red  deer,  I  know  no  public  cha- 
racter so  popular  in  this  part  of  Ireland.  The  fox  has  no  chance 
with  him.  Every  one  is  on  the  qui  vive  about  his  movements — 
where  he  ran,  where  he  was  taken,  etc.  Every  child  along  the 
roadside  "interviews"  you  on  the  subject  as  you  ride  homewards; 
in  fact,  for  an  hour  or  two  I  think  the  stag  of  the  day  almost 
divides  popular  honours  with  Mr.  Butt  (I  mean  no  pun).  Why, 
then,  cannot  a  very  little  care  and  forethought  obviate  these 
recurring  cur  crusades?  The  first  deer  secured,  a  second  was 
enlarged  on  the  far  side  of  the  Meath  line,  near  Parsonstown 
Manor.  I  think  the  law  given  was  short,  for  scent  seemed  very 
good  indeed,  and  away  we  followed  a  racing  pack  in  a  line  nearly 
parallel  to  the  metals  up  to  a  point  near  Kelliston  Bridge,  when 
we  turned  to  the  right,  ran  through  the  lands  of  Johnstown,  and 
presently  found  ourselves  in  the  village  of  Dunshaughlin,  where 
our  quarry  had  jumped  into  a  yard,  and  was  unable  to  get  out  of 
the  trap.  After  some  few  minutes'  breathing  time  she  was  enlarged 
again,  but  a  black  greyhound  coursed  her,  and  turned  her  back  into 
the  village  ;  so  that  this  run  too  was  marred,  as  it  was  beginning  to 


324  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

warm  into  something  good.  For  two  miles  or  thereabouts  hounds 
ran  very  sharply  over  a  beautiful  line,  which  a  Warwickshire  man 
who  was  in  the  field  appreciated  very  much. 

Turning  to  the  Kildare  side  of  the  country,  the  county  pack 
were  at  Ballymore  Eustace  village  on  Monday,  and  devoted  its 
earlier  hours  to  hillside  coverts.  Hollywood  was  the  first  draw, 
and  a  good  fox  broke  from  it  at  once,  and  ran  upwards,  taking  the 
field  up  a  sharp  hill — not  pleasant  riding — to  some  good,  sound, 
healthy  table  land,  and  thence  on  to  the  Scalp  Mountain,  which  is 
the  refuge  of  all  foxes  for  miles  around,  as  the  rocky  fissures  and 
holes  among  the  boulders  cannot  be  stopped. 

From  Blakestown,  another  hill  covert,  there  was  a  find  and 
departure;  but  the  fox,  after  breaking,  was  headed  back  by  a 
countryman  into  the  jaws  of  the  pack  and  killed  prematurely. 
Elverstown  held,  and  gave  the  pack  plenty  of  covert-hunting  for 
nearly  half  an  hour. 

A  friendly  controversy  has  recently  been  going  on  in  one  of 
the  Dublin  dailies  respecting  the  scale  of  hunting  expenses. 
Anthony  Trollope  put  these  down  at  £$  a  day  for  men  with 
one  horse  out,  ;£io  for  those  with  two.  A  writer  in  the  journal 
I  refer  to,  who  speaks  in  a  tone  of  experience  and  knowledge  of 
his  subject,  puts  them  at  not  less  than  £6,  probably  more. 
That  this  should  be  the  verdict  of  an  Irishman  seems  strange, 
considering  how  much  cheaper  were  all 'hunting  arrangements 
formerly  in  this  country  than  in  the  sister  isle.  Now  I  think  the 
balance  of  economy  is  in  favour  of  England,  while  the  balance 
of  sport  is  in  favour  of  Ireland.  As  a  specimen,  I  may  quote  one 
item  common  to  all  countries — horse  shoes,  for  which  my  smith,  a 
country  smith  too,  charges  me  $s.  6d.  a  set.  I  should  not  pay  so 
much  in  the  country  in  England.  With  regard  to  exact  estimates 
of  hunting  expenses,  it  is  very  hard  to  frame  them  precisely,  unless 
men  sell  off  their  studs  annually,  and  then  the  average  ought  to  be 
made  over  a  period  of,  say  five  years ;  for  luck  is  a  very  potent 
element  in  the  matter,  and  in  an  open  season  like  the  present, 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  325 

wear  and  tear  of  horseflesh  will  be  a  very  serious  item.  What 
adds  to  the  uncertainty  of  all  figures  in  these  estimates  is  the  fact 
that  men  have  such  different  ways  of  hunting.  The  same  horse 
will  come  out  twice  a  week  with  one  man,  while  in  another's  hands 
the  stud  groom  may  find  once  in  ten  days  more  than  an  average 
per  season.  One  man  will  give  £70  or^So  a  year  to  a  valet  to 
do  work  which  another  will  get  done  equally  well  for  perhaps  £  10. 
Some  optimists  in  horseflesh  will  find  a  margin  for  their  menus 
plaisirs  after  paying  corn  bills,  etc. ;  while  others,  with  less  of 
commercial  genius  and  a  slight  lack  of  inventive  romance,  will 
find  a  difficulty  in  selling  their  horses  at  all  at  hunter-like 
figures. 

On  Monday  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught  left  Bishopscourt 
for  Bagnalstown,  in  the  county  Carlow,  for  the  purpose  of  having  a 
day  with  Mr.  Watson's  most  perfect  and  perfectly  hunted  pack  of 
fox-hounds.  The  meet  was  at  the  railway  station  of  Bagnalstown, 
and  the  master,  Sir  C.  Wolseley,  Captain  M'Clintock  Bunbury, 
Mr.  Stewart  Duckett,  and  a  few  more  members,  were  in  waiting  to 
welcome  the  Duke,  while  all  classes  cheered  him  enthusiastically 
as  he  arrived  at  the  meeting-place.  These  loyal  demonstrations, 
and  the  fact  of  flags  having  been  placed  on  the  very  covert  fence, 
were  dead  against  the  chances  of  sport ;  so  when  Kilenane  was 
drawn,  it  happened  that  the  tenant  had  set  out  for  Shankhill  half 
an  hour  previously,  and,  making  use  of  his  start,  beat  the  hounds 
out  of  scent.  Flagmount  and  Castlewarren  proving  blank,  they 
went  on  to  Claragh,  from  which  they  raced  a  fox  into  Flag- 
mount,  hustled  him  through  it,  and  pulled  him  down  in  the  open 
after  a  good  thirty-five  minutes,  which  the  Duke — riding  the  winner 
of  last  year's  Sportsman's  Race  here — saw  very  well  all  through. 
This  closed  the  day's  proceedings,  as  Mr.  Watson  had  been  draw- 
ing away  from  his  own  country. 

The  next  day  this  pack  were  in  a  totally  different  part  of  their 
territory — the  Island  side  as  opposed  to  the  Carlow.  They  met 
at  Kildavin,  and  drew  on  towards  Newtown  Barry,  but  did  not 


326  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

find  till  they  reached  Coolgorragh,  when  a  real  good  fox  started 
off  from  Tombrick  Wood ;  but  turning  to  the  right,  ran  right  off 
to  Mount  Leinster,  where  he  saved  himself  among  the  rocky 
crevasses.  It  was  fifty-five  minutes,  with  only  one  very  brief  pause, 
and  those  who  rode  the  whole  of  this  fine  run  might  be,  I  believe, 
literally  counted  on  one  hand.  They  were  the  master,  Mr.  Beau- 
champ  Bagenal,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  West,  and  Mr.  Stewart  Duckett ; 
others  saw  parts  of  it  only. 

From  Carlow,  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught  moved — an 
easy  stage  it  is — to  Kilkenny  Castle,  where  he  was  the  guest  of 
the  Marquis  and  Marchioness  of  Ormonde.  I  regret  much  that  an 
accident  has  prevented  my  seeing  some  very  picturesque  phases 
of  fox-hunting,  such  as  were  presented  here  in  the  court-yard  of 
Kilkenny  Castle — a  volume  of  Irish  history  bound  in  stone,  where 
an  historic  past  is  linked  to  a  prosperous  present :  a  brilliant  and 
representative  assemblage — a  famous  pack,  which  has  not  suffered 
in  Colonel  Chaplin's  hands,  smart  hunt  servants,  and — pheno- 
menon of  phenomena  ! — gorgeously  fine  weather  to  light  up  and 
glorify  the  panoply  of  purple  and  fine  horses  (fine  linen,  doubtless, 
too),  which  the  occasion  presented.  Knockroe  produced  its  fox, 
who  ran  a  nice  line  to  Tullaroane  and  back  again,  and  once  more 
to  Tullaroane  to  ground.  Killeen,  too,  was  tenanted,  and  gave 
a  sharp  scurry.  There  were  some  casualties :  Mr.  Stannard,  I 
hear,  broke  his  arm ;  Mr.  Shine  his  horse's  neck. 

On  Thursday  the  Kildare  hounds  met  at  Bolton  Hill,  the 
extreme  verge  of  their  country  and  conterminous  with  Carlow, 
which  usually  helps  to  swell  the  assembly  here.  To-day  the 
menace  of  frost  and  the  splendid  festivities  of  Kilkenny  Castle 
made  the  ranks  of  pursuit  extremely  thin,  Mr.  B.  Bagenal  being 
nearly  the  single  Carlow  man  present.  Three  foxes  turned  up 
in  Hobartstown  Gorse,  one  of  which  ran  first  towards  Castle 
Dermot,  then  bent  towards  Sheriff's  Hill,  and  led  his  field  over 
a  most  intricate  line  to  the  hill  of  Mulla  Crennan,  through  the 
plantations  of  Kilkea  Castle,  to  be  killed  just  outside,  after  fifty- 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  327 

five  minutes  of  good  hunting,  twenty-five  at  express  pace.  Sheriff's 
Hill  furnished  a  second  fox,  who  was  lost  at  Corbally  Hill; 
Spratstown  a  third,  who  after  "  backing  and  filling "  between  his 
own  and  Mat  Conran's  Gorse,  ran  fast  to  Ballintaggart  Gorse, 
where  night  probably  saved  him.  A  very  good  day's  sport  for 
Fluellen's  day,  and  I  wish  the  23rd  Welsh  Fusiliers  (Colonel 
Mostyn's  battalion)  had  seen  it. 

Saturday,  the  Kildare  hounds  met  a  very  fashionable  assem- 
blage in  Maynooth,  to  which  historic  and  ecclesiastical  and  now 
academic  town,  I  have  before  introduced  my  readers.  A  long 
special  hunting  train  from  Dublin,  laden  with  horse-boxes,  their 
owners  and  grooms,  filled  the  main  street  of  Maynooth  with  such 
an  array  of  beauty,  rank,  and  fashion,  as  the  feudal  old  keep  of 
the  Geraldines  has  not  overshadowed  for  many  a  day.  Among 
the  visitors  were  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught  and  his  equerry, 
Captain  Maurice  Fitzgerald,  Lord  and  Lady  Randolph  Churchill 
and  Lady  Rosamond  Churchill,  Lady  Wallscourt  and  Lady  E. 
Stanhope,  the  Earl  of  Cork  and  Lady  D.  Boyle,  Lord  Clanmorris, 
Lieut. -Colonel  Forster,  Captain  Beresford,  Captain  T.  M'Calmont, 
Captain  Kearney,  Captain  St.  G.  Colthurst,  Captain  Graves  Sawle, 
Captain  Crosbie,  Captain  Bagot,  Captain  Lascelles,  Lord  Ross- 
more,  the  Hon.  L.  White,  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy  and 
Miss  Loyd,  Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  Mr.  Dunville,  Mr.  Rose,  Captain 
and  Lady  Maria  Fitzclarence,  Lieut. -Colonel  the  Hon.  C.  W. 
Thesiger  and  Mrs.  Thesiger,  Captains  O'Neal  and  Mills,  Mr. 
Thompson  and  Mr.  Ellis,  of  the  Inniskillings ;  Major  Dent,  Captains 
Brooks,  Day,  and  other  officers  of  the  yth  Dragoons ;  Captain 
Hibberd  and  officers  of  the  R.H.A.,  Royal  Engineers,  and  Rifle 
Brigade;  Lieut-Colonel  Rich,  R.E.,  Mr.  Usher  Roberts,  and 
pursuers  from  Kildare,  Meath,  and  I  know  not  what  other  quarters, 
and  it  will  be  gathered  that  the  meet  was  simply  immense  and 
overflowing.  Sport  was  not  in  proportion — a  mere  ha'p'orth  of 
bread  in  an  intolerable  quantity  of  sack.  Taghadoe  was  drawn 
blank;  Cullen's  Gorse  was  tenantless.  Carton  gave  us  a  brace, 


328  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 

one  of  whom  was  sent  along  through  the  park,  over  the  wall,  and 
then  for  about  a  mile  and  a  half  over  a  charming  bit  of  vale 
watered  by  the  Offalis,  where  the  ladies — specially  Lady  D.  Boyle, 
Lady  Rosamond  Churchill,  and  Lady  Randolph  Churchill — sent 
their  hunters  along  over  some  very  inviting  singles  with  good  will 
and  the  happiest  results,  till  our  fox  re-entered  the  Duke  of 
Leinster's  and  his  own  park,  to  be  again  hunted  through  its  long 
length,  hustled  over  the  boundary  wall,  and  killed  in  a  somewhat 
sensational  fashion  by  some  old  ruins.  A  magnificent  fox ;  Lady 
Rosamond  Churchill  possesses  his  brush.  The  Hon.  Mrs. 
Barton's  beautiful  grey  hunter  gave  her  a  very  shaking  fall,  and 
a  Pytchley  man  was  turned  over  by  wire  "couchant,"  but  not 
hurt.  Castletown  gave  us  no  sport.  Fearing  to  occupy  too  much 
space,  I  have  only  given  an  outline  of  the  day. 

The  Louth  hounds  were  at  Pepperstown  Cross  on  Monday, 
and  drew  the  coverts  of  Ardee  House,  Clonbracton,  Churchtown, 
and  Rathony,  with  the  result  of  a  find  in  each,  a  slow  run,  two  foxes 
sent  to  ground,  and  several  horses  cut  from  the  stones  so  prevalent 
in  the  banks  here.  The  master  had  five  thus  wounded,  though 
none  were  very  seriously  injured. 

On  Friday,  the  2nd,  they  were  at  the  Naul,  and  a  run  which 
looked  very  promising  from  that  cover  ended  abruptly  in  a  sewer, 
overlooked  till  to-day.  •  From  Mullahone  they  had  the  same 
mischance,  but  Knockbrack  gave  them  a  fox,  who  went  off  by 
Walshestown,  and  then  circled  back,  beating  the  pack  by  getting 
into  a  rabbit  burrow:  a  very  sharp  gallop  of  twenty-three 
minutes  over  a  beautiful  country.  The  day  in  its  afternoon  hours 
was  so  persistently  wet  that  no  one  asked  for  further  draws. 

On  Monday,  Bective,  on  the  Boyne,  the  hunting  residence  of 
Lieut. -Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  was  the  scene  of  one  of  the  prettiest 
lawn  meets  I  have  witnessed  for  some  time,  perfect  in  all  details, 
and  most  fashionably  attended— the  Marquis  of  Waterford,  Lord 
R.  Churchill  and  the  Ladies  Randolph  and  Rosamond  Churchill, 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Dunville,  the  Earl  of  Cork  and  Lady  D.  Boyle, 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  329 

Lady  Stourton  and  party,  General  Herbert  and  party,  Captain  and 
the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  the  Earl  of  Howth,  Lords  Rossmore, 
Langford,  and  Listowel,  Captain  and  Mrs.  Chaine,  Major  and 
and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Donaldson,  Lieut. -Colonel  Forster,  Lieut- 
Colonel  Johnson,  and  Captains  Colthurst,  Kearney,  J.  M'Calmont, 
Norris,  and  Beecher,  A.D.C.'s,  being  among  the  visitors.  The 
day  was  beautiful  in  its  early  hours,  and  the  fox  turned  up 
opportunely  in  Churchtown,  running  to  Philpotstown.  Of  the  rest 
of  the  day  I  cannot  speak  now,  having  hurried  off  to  see  a  meet 
of  the  Ward  Union  hounds  at  Culmullen  cross-roads,  which  pro- 
duced two  runs  :  the  first,  very  promising  and  over  a  beautiful 
line,  was  spoilt  by  the  inevitable  colley  pack ;  the  second  was  a 
very  good  one  from  Kilmore  via  Culmullen  House. 

The  latest  interesting  items  of  hunting  news  in  Ireland,  which 
I  can  only  allude  to  here,  are — First,  a  capital  hound  run  in  the 
Queen's  County  on  Monday  last,  when  the  pack  met  at  Corbally, 
found  there,  and  blinked  the  entire  field  and  staff  by  slipping  off 
on  the  far  side  of  the  thick  hedgerow,  running  their  fox  to  ground 
near  Orchard,  after  a  very  fast  seven  miles  over  a  good  line;  among 
the  field  out  were  Lord  Egmont  and  Captain  Hare,  master  of  the 
Duhallow  hounds.  Secondly,  a  magnificent  meet  of  the  Ward 
Union  hounds  at  Dunboyne,  on  Wednesday,  the  7th,  followed  by 
a  very  fine  ring  over  a  charming  country,  which  Lord  Cork,  the 
late  Master  of  the  Buck-hounds,  saw  right  well. 


330  HIBERNIA    VENATICA. 


XXII. 

'  The  backward  crowd  are  still  the  first  to  chide  ; 
For  all  can  censure  when  but  few  can  ride." 


Maynooth  and  its  multitudes— Bective  beatitudes— Mr.    Murphy— Long  run 
from  Dunmurry — Dunboyne  and  the  Ward  Hounds. 

"  THE  everlasting  hills  !  " — say,  rather,  the  everlasting  rills  !  One 
day,  or  rather  one  morning,  of  snow,  two  of  white  and  one  of 
black  frost,  and  there  seemed  a  possibility  of  hunting  being  in  the 
same  parlous  case  in  this  Green  Isle  as  our  letters  from  the  mid- 
land shires  tell  us  of  as  depressing  the  spirits  of  pursuers  in  the 
land  of  the  Saxon ;  but  Friday  solved  the  problem  for  us  in  a 
deluge  of  rain,  and  by  Saturday  the  familiar  features  of  water  in 
furrows,  and  small  lacustrine  systems  over  the  vale,  greeted  the 
eye  of  survey  in  its  early  sweep  of  the  horizon.  A  gloomy, 
penumbral,  overcast  morning  it  was  ! — the  west  seemed  rain-laden. 
Soppy  leathers  and  soaked  tops  seemed  our  inevitable  portion. 
The  Kildare  hounds  were  due  at  Maynooth  at  11.30  a.m.  on 
Saturday,  the  3rd  instant.  It  was  known  or  surmised  that  H.R.H. 
the  Duke  of  Connaught  was  coming  out  to  join  them.  Quelle 
pauvre  chance  for  the  hundreds  bound  to  attend  this  great  hunting 
function  ! — the  legions  of  ladies,  \  the  cohorts  of  captains,  the 
phalanx  of  pursuers  from  every  corner  of  Ireland.  Here  my 
alliterates  break  down ;  for,  if  my  memory  serves  me  aright,  the 
gentlemen-at-arms  who  formed  the  famous  phalanx  were  on  foot, 


HIBERNIA    VENATICA.  331 

and  cavalry  was  our  order  in  Maynooth.  Now  dress  plays  no 
small  part  in  a  great  hunting  function  such  as  to-day  promised  to 
be,  and  the  pride  of  purple  and  the  flash  of  Propert's  properties 
suffer  considerable  diminution  when  exposed  for  hours  to  a  dilu- 
vial downpour.  As  for  ladies,  I  suppose,  if  the  weather  be  in- 
ordinately bad,  the  -majority  of  them,  at  least  those  under 
chaperonage,  will  stay  at  home  very  wisely ;  but  if  the  day  be 
simply  chequered  and  ominous,  I  suppose  the  question  matinale 
will  be,  is  it  the  thick  habit  or  the  thin,  the  tall  hat  or  the  round, 
the  covert  coat  brought  or  the  covert  coat  left  at  home  ?  To-day 
it  was  evident  at  a  glance  that  the  important  question  had  been 
put  and  answered  in  very  different  fashions.  One  or  two  well- 
known  pursuers  made  the  dirtiest  weather  of  it,  so  far  as  the 
outer  man  was  concerned ;  some  compromised ;  not  a  few  put 
their-faith  up  to  "set  fair,"  and  dressed  accordingly — and  they 
were  right.  By  n  a.m.  every  trace  of  gloom  and  inky  skies  had 
vanished  !  The  air  was  soft  and  velvety,  a  sun  worthy  of  July  was 
darting  out  warm  rays  all  round,  the  perfume  of  the  gorse  blossom 
was  abroad,  crows  were  busy  house-building;  spring  had  burst 
upon  us  suddenly,  in  a  fashion  more  like  a  Canadian  latitude  than 
our  own  !  Some  twenty  horse-boxes  came  down  from  Dublin 
alone  :  from  Newbridge  and  the  Curragh  came  a  strong  body  of 
cavalry.  Lord  Howth  had  mounted  Lord  Cork  on  a  very  clever 
hunter,  while  Colonel  Fraser  had  lent  a  very  perfect  chestnut,  the 
winner  of  the  Light-Weight  Red-coat  race  in  Meath  last  year,  to  his 
daughter,  Lady  D.  Boyle.  The  Carton  party  was  a  large  one. 
"  The  Castle  "  contributed  well-nigh  a  score  of  lords,  ladies,  and 
ministering  captains  to  the  gay  scene ;  and,  to  sum  up,  the  paral- 
lelogram formed  by  the  ruins  of  the  Fitzgerald  fortresses  on  one 
side,  the  college  of  St.  Patrick  on  the  other,  and  some  modern 
houses  for  the  third  and  fourth,  was  choke-full  of  the  rank  and 
fashion  of  Ireland — civil,  military,  and  political. 

Mr.  Mansfield  was  not  long  in  setting  his  cavalcade  in  motion ; 
and,  trotting  for  a  mile  or  two,  we  turn  into  a  lane-way,  both  deep 


332  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

in  clay  and  mire,  which  leads  to  Taghadoe  Gorse.  The  field  out- 
side the  gorse  is  of  a  consistency  which  Hendon  might  rival  in 
squelchiness,  but  very  few  other  places  I  wot  of.  Taghadoe  is 
blank,  as  the  trumpet  proclaims,  and  we  move  on,  in  two  or  three 
columns,  by  different  routes,  to  Cullen's  Gorse,  about  a  mile  or 
more  distant,  with  some  interludes  of  jumping  and  tumbling — of 
which  I  saw  an  illustration  presently  in  a  very  dirty  coat  and  a 
hat  wrinkled  like  a  top-boot  of  fifty  years  ago.  Cullen's  Gorse  is 
approached  by  a  sort  of  fosse  road  full  of  holes  and  inequalities ; 
and  here  I  heard  that  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Barton's  grey  hunter  came 
down  heavily,  and  dislocated  her  wrists  or  elbows  :  I  did  not  see 
the  accident  myself.  There  is  no  fox  on  the  premises,  so  fox- 
haunted  in  the  early  season.  So  we  move  back  to  Carton,  the 
splendid  park  of  the  Dukes  of  Leinster,  which  yields  a  rich 
harvest  of  beauty  of  scenery  and  architecture  to  the  eye  as  it 
wanders  over  the  spacious  reaches  of  wood  and  water,  river,  lake, 
still  pool  and  foaming  cascade,  hill  and  dale,  inclosed  by  a  wall 
not  much  less  than  eight  miles  in  circumference.  Besides  the 
woods,  there  is  a  small  bit  of  gorse  and  fox  covert  on  a  sunny  hill- 
slope  over-hanging  the  river  Rye,  and  here  we  found  a  brace  of 
foxes  at  once — the  dog,  one  of  the  finest  specimens  of  sleek, 
well-fed,  well-grown  foxhood  that  could  be  seen.  Away  he  goes 
most  obligingly,  en  evidence  over  the  turf,  setting  the  multitude  into 
a  gallop.  His  mask  is  pointed  for  Moygaddy,  and  it  is  on  the 
cards  that  he  will  not  stop  till  he  has  reached  the  Meath  coverts 
of  Mulhussey  or  Colistown.  The  wall  I  have  alluded  to  is  very 
high,  and,  though  pierced  by  many  gates,  the  gate  in  our  path 
was  by  some  oversight  locked,  and  the  key  is  not  forthcoming. 
"  Love  laughs  at  locks,"  says  the  song ;  so  do  fox-hunters  too,  and 
a  key  was  soon  found  that  gave  an  exit.  Presently  our  fox,  who 
has,  owing  to  this  delay,  been  left  to  his  own  devices,  tries  to  steal 
back  to  the  park,  and  is  viewed  in  doing  so  from  the  road.  The 
hounds  are  soon  clapped  on,  and  are  carrying  the  line  over  some 
rich  grass  fields,  through  which  flows  the  river  or  brook  Offalis — 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  333 

a  small  stream,  but  presenting  few  jumpable  spots,  dammed  up 
in  others,  and  altogether  a  watery  barrier  of  some  moment.  How 
some  fared  I  know  not ;  I  heard  of  seven  bathers  in  one  part 
alone.  The  lot  I  had  cast  in  with,  led  by  a  local  pilot,  Mr.  Chap- 
man, found  an  easy  ford,  and  got  over  nicely  and  drily ;  then, 
after  a  flying  fence  or  two,  crossed  the  Dunboyne  road,  and  pre- 
sently pulled  up  at  the  Leixlip  gate  of  Carton,  to  find  the  fox  had 
re-entered  the  park,  run  through  his  gorse,  essayed  another  ven- 
ture into  the  country ;  but  the  hot  day  and  his  high  condition 
were  against  him,  an  old  ruin  looks  most  inviting,  so  he  creeps  in. 
Freeman  and  the  first  whip  climb  up  and  actually  handle  him,  but 
he  slips  away,  only  to  fall  into  the  jaws  of  the  pack.  The  brush 
is  presented  to  Lady  Rosamond  Churchill.  Who-whoop !  who- 
whoop  !  There  ought  to  be  much  joy  among  the  hen-wives 
around  !  Our  next  visit  was  to  Castletown,  but  it  produced  no 
sport.  A  beautiful  day,  spent  among  scenes  of  great  beauty,  in 
pleasant  company  :  who  shall  say  that  this,  too,  is  not  one  of  the 
pleasant  sides  of  hunting — cub-hunting,  if  you  will — a  white-waist- 
coat day,  if  not  a  red-letter  one  ?  Captain  Saunders  narrowly 
escaped  an  accident  from  concealed  wire  :  as  it  was,  it  turned 
man  and  horse  over,  and  left  its  mark  on  the  saddle-tree ;  but  he 
was  in  the  act  of  jumping  into  a  road,  so  had  very  little  or  no 
"way  on,"  hence  the  immunity  !  Let  me  also  state  in  all  fairness 
that  this  side  of  Meath  is  hardly  ever  run  over  by  fox-hounds, 
though  of  course  it  is  liable  to  an  inroad  any  day  from  the  Meath 
coverts  of  Colistown  and  Mulhussey  as  well  as  from  the  Kildare 
side.  Harriers,  however,  hunt  all  round  here,  and  wire  is  nearly 
as  dangerous  with  hare  hounds  as  with  their  bigger  brethren. 

Monday  morning  glistened  with  rime  in  its  matutinal  hours, 
your  scribe  and  chronicler  being  about  early,  pricking  down  to 
Bective  on  the  Boyne,  to  assist,  if  we  must  use  the  idiom  of  the 
Gaul,  at  a  lawn  meet  at  Colonel  Eraser's  residence.  I  know  few 
rides  which  are  likely  to  impress  a  stranger  with  a  more  vivid 
sense  of  the  scope  and  quality  of  the  best  Irish  hunting  grounds. 


334  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

The  native,  from  the  habit  of  seeing  the  grassy  panorama  spread 
weekly,  perhaps  daily,  before  his  eye,  fails  to  realize  its  grandeur 
(in  a  hunting  sense) !  but  let  him  come  from,  say,  the  shires,  and 
take  this  very  ride  of  perhaps  fourteen  or  fifteen  English  miles, 
and  then  let  me  hear  his  verdict.  I  recollect  travelling  over  a 
portion  of  this  country  with  the  master  of  a  crack  pack  of  fox- 
hounds on  the  Navan  line,  and  his  remark  to  me,  after  a  spell  of 
gazing  out  of  the  window  at  the  surrounding  grasseries,  was, 
"  Why,  one  would  think  a  fox  should  never  be  lost  here ; "  but 
foxes  are  lost  here,  as  in  other  countries,  and  I  do  not  pretend  to 
arrogate  for  Meath  superior  scenting  qualifications  to  other  hunt- 
ing territories.  Those  best  informed  give  the  preference  to  several 
other  districts  less  pleasing  to  the  eye.  What  I  do  say  is  that  a 
finer  hunting  perspective  is  gained  here  than  in  any  land  I  wot  of 
short  of  the  Western  prairies.  Passing  by  Baytown  Park,  Vesing- 
ton,  Rathbeggan,  we  come  to  J5afterstovm — which  really  seems  a 
misnomer,  and  that  the  true  reading  should  be  Butterstown  for 
a  land  ready  to  overflow  with  milk  and  its  compounds.  Passing 
over  one  or  two  little  elevations,  called  "  hills  "  in  this  vale  land, 
such  as  Piper's  Hill  and  Cross  Keys  Hill,  and  leaving  the  Grange 
and  Kilcarty  to  our  left,  neither  of  them  wooded  enough  to  detain 
a  fox  more  than  a  few  moments,  we  come  to  Kilmessan  station. 
The  train  has  just  landed  its  freight,  human  and  equine,  and  it 
is  evident  that  Dublin  means  to  contribute  largely  to  the  gay* 
gathering  at  BeCtive  this  forenoon.  Pass  we  on  now  to  the  bridge 
over  the  Boyne,  eagerly  scanned  by  salmon  fishers,  glancing 
at  Bective  Abbey  and  its  ivied  cloisters ;  a  turn  brings  us  in  a 
minute  or  two  to  Colonel  Eraser's  pleasant  hunting  box,  under  the 
very  windows  of  which  the  tawny  flood  of  the  Boyne  water  seems 
to  be  continually  passing  seawards.  I  said  the  day  was  fine  and 
frosty,  and  towards  eleven  o'clock  a  cheerful  sun  lit  up  the  firs  and 
laurels,  the  cohorts  of  carriages,  and  the  legions  of  led  horses  that 
had  taken  up,  or  were  taking  up,  positions  all  over  the  grounds. 
Accustomed  to  very  plethoric  meets,  this  strikes  me  as  exceeding 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  335 

ordinary  limits,  spite  of  Sandown  and  Croydon  attractions,  while 
the  mere  sight-seeing,  pic-nicing,  outing  element  is  most  con- 
spicuously absent.  In  the  brief  postscript  I  added  to  my  last 
week's  letter  I  mentioned,  I  think,  the  names  of  a  good  many  of 
the  principal  visitors,  including  the  Dublin  Castle  party,  the  aides- 
de-camp  in  waiting,  and  the  aides  out  of  waiting.  The  science 
of  venerie  and  woodcraft  was  illustrated  by  such  representatives 
as  the  Marquis  of  Waterford,  the  Earl  of  Howth  for  fox- 
hounds, the  Earl  of  Cork  for  stag-hounds,  Lord  Rossmore  for 
harriers.  Colonel  Fraser,  the  host,  was  quite  the  Marquis  de 
Carabbas,  as  far  as  horses  went,  as  his  stable  seemed  to  be  requi- 
sitioned for  all  weights  and  all  colours.  Whose  is  that  very  neat 
corky  grey  that  Lady  D.  Boyle  seems  so  happy  on? — Colonel 
Eraser's.  Whose  is  that  lengthy  blood  like  chestnut,  Famous,  that 
carries  Lady  Rosamond  Churchill  so  easily? — from  the  same 
stable,  of  course.  How  many  he  mounted  besides  Lord  Water- 
ford  and  Lord  Listowel  I  cannot  now  say,  merely  remarking  that 
the  man  would  be  fastidious  who  would  decline  a  mount  on  the 
clever  old-fashioned  grey  that  he  rode  himself.  A  bright,  beauti- 
ful scene,  with  the  pack  in  the  foreground,  shepherded  by  Goodall 
and  his  staff.  Every  one  seemed  to  have  kept  picked  horses 
for  the  festive  occasion,  or  else  the  average  in  Meath  must  be 
unusually  good  for  the  time  of  year.  Time  would  fail,  and  space 
forbid,  my  dwelling  on  even  the  most  noticeable  features — on 
Captain  P.  Low's  most  perfect  little  equipage  ;  on  the  Hon.  Mrs. 
Donaldson's  badger-coloured  Little  Wonder ;  on  many  horses  of 
fashion  and  reputation ;  of  the  many  objets  d'art  in  Bective  to 
please  the  cultured  eye ;  of  the  objets  gastronomiques  to  please  a 
more  imperative  and  clamorous  sense ;  of  subtle  essences  and 
petits  verres;  of  two  quaint  foxes  the  gardener  had  designed  in 
red  sand ;  of  the  care  the  gallant  colonel  had  shown  for  the 
hungry,  thirsty  crowd  of  pedestrians  whom  such  a  meet  must 
attract.  All  this  I  must  pass  by,  as  the  gay  cavalcade  is  already 
in  motion  ;  and,  strangely  enough,  we  are  passing  by  the  belts  of 


336  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

woodlands  near  the  Boyne,  and  are  trotting  on  towards  Navan, 
never  pausing  till  we  pull  up  at  Churchtown,  from  which  it  will  be 
recollected  by  your  readers  we  had  such  a  fine  gallop  a  few  weeks 
earlier  in  the  season.  A  very  small  parallelogram  of  fir  and  gorse 
is  Churchtown,  and  not  many  hundred  yards  from  the  road ;  so 
that  'tis  not  surprising  that,  on  a  dry,  cold,  crisp  morning  like  this, 
ringing  hoofs  and  grinding  wheels  should  have  scared  away  any- 
thing but  a  very  sleepy,  surfeited,  and  lazy  fox.  The  trumpet 
sounds,  and  we  are  going  somewhere  else,  when  somebody  brings 
word  that  the  tenant  of  Churchtown  has  been  viewed  stealing 
away  a  few  minutes  ago.  The  hounds  are  on  his  line  in  a  few 
seconds,  and  tell  us,  in  language  not  to  be  mistaken,  that  he  is 
not  long  in  front.  Philpotstown  is  but  a  few  fields  distant,  and 
thither  they  hunted  him  fast.  Having  made  arrangements  to  join 
the  Ward  Union  hounds  at  Culmullen  cross-roads  at  1.30  p.m., 
and,  as  there  was  an  interval  of  nearly  ten  miles  between  the 
places,  I  was  obliged  to  leave  our  fox  at  this  interesting  crisis  to 
his  fate,  and,  facing  a  fierce  hailstorm,  that  possibly  saved  the 
fox's  life,  trot  on  to  Culmullen,  reaching  it  just  in  time  for  the 
enlargement  of  the  first  red  deer  a  few  fields  below  Culmullen 
House  eastward.  There  is  a  beautiful  grass  valley  on  either  the 
northern  or  the  eastern  side  of  the  little  dividing  range  on  which 
stands  Culmullen  House.  Our  deer  plunged  down  eastward,  but, 
unfortunately,  some  colley  dogs  had  determined  not  to  wait  for 
the  onslaught  of  the  pack — "  the  regulars  " — so  they  chivied  the 
unfortunate  quarry  from  the  post.  A  charming  line,  for  about 
a  mile  and  a  half;  the  pace  was  very  good,  and  sustained,  till  a 
boundary  fence  of  unjumpable  calibre  seemed  to  turn  the  deer  as 
well  as  her  pursuers.  Soon  after  this  she  ran  past  "  the  Hatchet  " 
in  view,  turned  back,  made  a  short  ring  almost  over  her  foil,  and 
was  taken  safely  at  "  the  Hatchet." 

The  next  enlargement  took  place  beyond  Kilmore  Parsonage, 
and  was  far  happier,  the  deer  crossing  some  heavy-going  grass 
fields,  rather  widely  dyked,  and  then  running  nearly  up  to  Cul- 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  337 

mullen  House,  where  the  field,  who  were  getting  the  worst  of  it, 
had  a  turn  in  their  favour.  He  then  swept  down  the  vale,  and 
made  Dunsany  Park,  where  he  was  secured :  fifty  minutes  very 
fast  over  a  grassy  line,  no  checks  and  no  pauses.  For  further  infor- 
mation I  would  recommend  a  consultation  with  Messrs.  Hone  and 
M'Gerr,  who  know  all  about  it.  I  was  amused  at  the  remark  of  a 
rustic  who  had  secured  two  loose  horses,  whose  riders  did  not  show. 
"  Bedad,  I  can  sell  a  horse  now ! "  They  were  a  good-looking  pair, 
and,  spite  of  the  evidence  of  a  fall,  would  not  have  been  a  bad 
investment  for  a  few  ponies,  I  think,  if  the  title  would  have  stood. 

Apropos  of  good  horses,  it  is  gratifying  to  one's  "  guesses  at 
horse  truth  "  to  find  that  Sultana  and  Abdallah,  the  two  winners 
at  Sandown  last  week,  were  honourably  lauded  in  The  Field  on 
the  occasion  of  a  brief  visit  to  Mr.  Burton  Persse's  stables  and 
kennels  at  Moyode  Castle  a  few  years  ago ;  but  it  requires  no 
prophetic  mantle  to  cast  a  good  chasing  horoscope  for  the  progeny 
of  the  Arab  Maid  and  Thomastown. 

The  sequel  to  the  "day's  doings"  in  Meath  (I  mean  the 
5th  inst.)  was  a  long  desultory  sort  of  run  from  the  inexhaustible 
Rathmore — the  piece  de  resistance  for  Meath's  M.F.H.'s — by  Tul- 
laghnogue,  Meadstown,  and  Kilbride,  neither  straight  nor  fast, 
but,  as  I  can  say  from  experience,  over  a  country  abounding  in 
fences  of  large  proportion,  almost  the  largest.  Men  thought  them 
serious ;  the  ladies  skimmed  over  them,  I  am  told,  with  an  aplomb 
all  their  own,  the  result  of  fine  hands  and  great  faith  in  their 
mounts — a  faith  which  was  not  impaired  by  catastrophes.  I  also 
heard  that  Mr.  Trotter's  pas  seul  (if  I  may  use  the  term)  over 
most  repelling-looking  timber  deserved  the  reward  of  a  lead  of 
twenty-five  minutes  in  the  fastest  burst  of  the  season,  which, 
however,  did  not  come  off. 

But  the  day  must  have  been  saddened  to  many,  if  not  all,  by 
a  fearful  accident  which  befel  Mr.  Murphy,  of  Braymount,  a  veteran 
sportsman,  whose  years  had  only  brought  him  increase  of  friends. 
I  did  not  see  it,  so  can  only  report  from  description.  He  was 

z 


338  HIBERNIA   VENAT1CA. 

riding  a  three  or  four-year-old,  who  plunged  or  bucked,  and 
unseated  his  rider  by  a  gateway.  With  the  instinct  of  an  old 
sportsman,  he  held  on  to  the  reins  when  down,  though  begged  to 
let  them  go,  and  his  horse,  probably  thoroughly  frightened,  kicked 
him  about  the  head  and  face  till  he  was  desperately  wounded. 
Two  hard-riding  Saxons  who  were  near  (Captains  Candy  and 
Norris)  did  all  that  care  could  do  till  professional  assistance 
arrived,  and  now,  I  hear,  the  doctors  hope  for  the  best. 

Kildare  is  a  meet  which  most  Kildare  men  hold  in  little  love 
or  esteem,  and  when  it  comes  on  the  roster  in  due  course  some 
are  apt  to  develope  suddenly  extraordinary  business  aptitudes, 
while  others  take  the  occasion  of  visiting  a  neighbouring  pack, 
running  up  to  town,  or  wiping  off  arrears  of  correspondence ; 
and  yet  it  is  never  a  blank  day,  or  without  three  or  four  foxes 
turning  up  somewhere ;  and  when  there  are  foxes  and  miles  of 
almost  uninterrupted  light  grass  all  around,  a  fine  run  is  always 
possible.  The  desagremens  of  a  Kildare  meet  are  mainly  the 
certainty  of  the  presence  of  a  crowd  of  pedigree  horses,  rather 
free  of  their  hind  legs,  who  are  being  "  entered  to  fox-hounds," 
and  perhaps  "qualifying"  for  hunters'  races.  Then,  though 
foxes  abound,  wild  straggling  gorse,  clothing  miles  of  hill  ridge, 
abounds  "more,  and  after  a  few  days'  experience  the  ascent  and 
descent  of  these  steep  pitches  become  monstrously  wearisome  to 
man  and  horse.  On  the  other  hand,  it  may  be  pleaded  that  the 
four  or  five  miles'  gallop  over  the  Curragh  on  the  way  to  the  meet 
is  worth  any  journey ;  that  many  masters  in  England  and  Scotland 
would  rejoice  greatly  if  the  Dunmurry  range  and  the  neighbouring 
vale  were  added  to  their  territory ;  that,  in  fact,  the  despising  of 
Kildare  and  its  hunting  possibilities  is  mere  fastidiousness  result- 
ing from  a  surfeit  of  good  things  ;  that  the  presence  of  platers  is 
a  necessary  evil,  which  may  be  turned  to  profitable  account  during 
the  coming  season  ;  and  that  one  stiff  bank  or  two  or  three  hours' 
cub-hunting  will  weed  the  field  of  the  entire  company.  As  the 
bard  said  or  sang — 

"  Non  nostrum  est  tantas  componere  lites." 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  339 

Suffice  it  to  say  that  on  this  particular  occasion  Kildare  was  very 
popular  among  soldiers  and  civilians,  who  swelled  the  numbers 
of  the  field  to  most  unwonted  proportions.  Conspicuous  among 
the  former  was  Colonel  Bray,  of  the  4th  of  the  line,  on  his  good 
Arab  hunter,  at  the  head  of  a  number  of  his  brother  officers. 
The  day  began  rather  badly  at  Dr.  Chaplin's  Gorse  on  the  south 
side  of  the  Curragh ;  it  held  a  fox,  and  when  he  broke  some 
impetuous  men  made  a  short  cut  through  a  viaduct,  over  which 
the  metals  of  the  Great  Southern  and  Western  line  pass,  headed 
him  back  into  the  jaws  of  the  pack,  and  so  lost  their  possible 
gallop.  Two  men,  I  hear,  misjudging  the  height  of  this  viaduct, 
got  very  nasty  falls  in  passing  through.  The  next  move  was  to 
Dunmurry  Hill,  where  four  foxes  were  on  foot  together.  One 
was  hunted  to  the  Green  Hills  and  back  twice,  when  he  broke 
in  the  opposite  direction,  brushed  by  Dunmurry  House  (Mr. 
Medlicott's),  by  a  hill  known  from  its  conformation  as  "  the  Chair 
of  Kildare,"  then  ran  over  a  bit  of  swampy  land,  where  much 
grief  of  the  watery  order  followed,  right  up  to  Morristown  Biller, 
Mr.  Moses  Taylor's  residence,  passed  through  his  grounds,  over 
the  Newbridge  racecourse,  till  I  hear  the  hounds,  hunting  most 
perseveringly  through  small  inclosures  with  waning  and  flickering 
scent,  rolled  him  over  at  last.  This  was  perhaps  the  longest  run 
ever  known  from  Dunmurry.  To  the  lovers  of  recurring  jumps, 
not  too  large,  it  was  indeed  a  perfect  treat  in  the  way  of  riding. 
The  Duhallow  run  with  an  outlying  fox  through  Ballygiblin,  and 
straight  on  to  Roskeen,  when  he  beat  the  pack  to  ground,  is 
spoken  of  as  a  very  fine  pursuit,  and  fast.  I  forget  the  date,  but 
it  was  on  the  day  they  met  at  Aughrim. 

I  had  written  this  paragraph  from  the  data  of  a  friend,  who 
had  to  catch  a  train  and  was  not  able  to  see  the  finale.  I  have 
since  ascertained  from  one  who  rode  this  long  run  from  beginning 
to  end,  and  saw  everything,  that  after  his  tour  over  Pollardstown 
and  Mr.  Moses  Taylor's  lands,  the  fox  tried  some  earths  at  the 
rectory  of  Morristown  Biller,  crossing  the  Great  Southern  and 


340  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A. 

Western  line  to  do  so.  They  were  sealed ;  so  he  recrossed  the 
railway  track  in  view,  close  by  the  Newbridge  railway  station,  and, 
finding  no  haven  or  shelter  near  here,  he  boldly  set  out  for  the 
Hill  of  Allen,  some  four  miles  distant,  which  he  reached  in  front 
of  the  pack — scent,  which  had  been  of  the  lowest  all  day,  dying 
away  to  nothing  as  a  sleet  storm  came  on.  Those  who  saw  the 
dog-pack  at  work  over  this  long  nine  miles  (Irish),  or  rather  more, 
which  took  more  than  two  hours  to  accomplish,  laud  the  per- 
formance greatly.  Ir  was  this  same  pack  who,  under  better 
auspices,  killed  their  fox  handsomely  last  Friday  week  after  the 
run  of  the  season,  and  after  some  ten  miles  of  pace,  which  told 
out  every  hunter  in  the  field. 

On  Tuesday  the  Meath  hounds  had  what  a  Leicestershire  man 
called  a  capital  forty-six  minutes  from  Bengerstown  Gorse,  one  of 
their  best  strongholds  of  foxes. 

I  sing  the  stag  !  call  him  any  opprobrious  name  you  please — 
calf,  jackass,  what  you  will.  After  the  enormous  levee  in  his 
honour  to-day,  I — at  least  supposed  to  be  a  veracious  chronicler, 
one  who  at  any  rate  aims  at  veracity  and  accuracy,  if  he  cannot 
at  all  times  attain  to  it — feel  bound  to  speak  of  the  Ward  Union 
quarry  with  the  respect  due  to  the  motor  of  the  finest,  most 
fashionable,  and  largest  array  I  have  yet  witnessed  in  Ireland — 
a  gathering  which  Englishmen  who  were  out  looked  upon  with 
amazement,  and  which  a  pursuer  from  the  shires  whom  I  talked 
to  on  the  subject  thought  a  very  magnificent  display.  I  am  not 
prepared  to  give  you  a  catalogue  of  names,  a  list  of  the  riders,  or 
an  enumeration  of  the  rank  and  fashion  that  peopled  the  coaches, 
phaetons,  T  carts,  and  outside  cars  which  are  not  quite  extinct  in 
our  island  as  yet ;  but  I  hardly  fancy  that  since  the  time  of 
Henry  VI.  (and  that  includes  a  long  cycle)  Dunboyne  has  ever 
been  the  theatre  of  so  splendid  an  assembly  as  graced  its  some- 
what squalid  market-place  and  fair  green  to-day.  A  resume  of  a 
few  of  the  "  proceres  "  is  all  I  can  attempt  here,  as,  to  begin  with, 
I  am  sure  my  eye  did  not  take  in  half  the  comers.  Of  the  crowd 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  341 

I  saw,  I  doubt  whether  I  knew  more  than,  or  as  much  as,  two- 
thirds  ;  and,  of  these  two-thirds,  it  would  require  a  more  faithful 
memory  than  mine  to  give  a  list  at  all  approaching  accuracy. 

Ab  Jove  principium  I  Our  Jupiter  is  H.R.H.  Colonel  the 
Duke  of  Connaught,  mounted  on  Black  Knight,  and  attended  by 
Captain  Maurice  Fitzgerald,  his  equerry,  and  a  number  of  the 
officers  of  his  battalion  of  the  Rifle  Brigade,  including  Captains 
Lascelles  and  Bagot,  Lord  Clanmorris,  and  Mr.  Wade  Prosser. 

The  Castle  party  were  expected,  but  something — a  Drawing- 
Room  imminent,  I  believe — prevented  their  attendance.  The 
Staff,  including  Captains  Kearney,  Norris,  Colthurst,  Graves  Sawle, 
Michel,  Crosbie,  etc.,  were  out  Mr.  Morrogh,  looking  none  the 
worse  for  his  leg  so  recently  smashed,  was  out  on  wheels,  and  so 
was  Mrs.  Morrogh  and  party.  Eight  coaches,  fairly  and  darkly 
freighted,  made  one  think  we  had  jumped  into  May  and  the 
Magazine ;  but  one  look  at  the  thatched  cottages,  not  to  speak  of 
a  "  dunderin',  thunderin',  rantin' "  blast,  laden  with  hail  and  sleet, 
brought  me  back  to  March  and  Dunboyne.  Among  these  drags 
were  Mr.  O'Reilly's,  Mr.  Turbitt's,  the  Inniskillings',  the  3rd 
Dragoon  Guards',  Captain  Saunders's,  Sir  J.  Power's,  Mr.  Close's. 
Among  the  visitors  were  Lords  Cork,  Listowel,  Langford,  Clon- 
curry,  Maurice  Fitzgerald,  and  Rossmore ;  Captain  and  the  Hon. 
Mrs.  Candy,  Captain  Tuthill,  Miss  Tuthill,  and  Miss  Tynte, 
Captain  and  Mrs.  Chaine,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Dunville,  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Rose,  Lieut. -Colonel  Forster,  Lieut-Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  Mr. 
Trotter,  Captain  P.  Low,  the  Messrs.  Hone,  Mr.  Chadwick,  Mr. 
Murphy,  Sir  J.  Barrington,  Captains  Ward  Bennett,  Heaviside, 
and  Mills ;  and  Messrs.  Ellis  and  Thompson,  of  the  Inniskillings ; 
Captain  Parke,  Mr.  Massy  Dawson,  and  officers  of  the  3rd 
Dragoon  Guards;  Lieut. -Colonel  Sarsfield  Green,  R.H. A.;  Captain 
Saunders,  Mr.  Waldron,  and  officers  of  the  R.H.A.  and  7th 
Fusiliers ;  Captain  P.  Butler,  Mr.  M'Farlane,  Mrs.  Maxwell  and 
Miss  Hamilton,  Mr.  and  Miss  Hussey,  Mr.  and  Miss  Coleridge,  Mr. 
and  Mrs.  Jameson,  Captain  Saunders,  and  Dr.  Swan.  How  many 


342  HIBERNIA   YEN  ATI  C A. 

hundreds  (or  thousands?)  were  assembled  cannot  be  now  told. 
My  groom,  a  west-countryman,  says  he  thinks  he  has  seen  as  large 
gatherings  in  the  Duke  of  Beaufort's  country,  when  perhaps 
Gloucester,  Bristol,  Cheltenham,  and  Bath  swelled  a  single  meet ; 
and  for  my  own  part  I  have  lively  recollection  of  a  huge  gathering 
at  Badminton  on  an  occasion  when  his  Grace  of  Beaufort  wished 
to  have  a  quiet  by-day  for  his  guest  the  Prince  of  Wales,  but  which 
swelled  into  something  enormous  by  luncheon-time.  Lord  Cork, 
whose  recollection  must  embrace  some  very  large  assemblies  at 
Maidenhead  thickets  and  in  the  Harrow  country,  told  me  he 
thought  the  crowd  compared  in  numbers  with  those  he  recol- 
lected when  Master  of  the  Buck-hounds ;  but  in  point  of  horseflesh 
he  decidedly  gave  the  palm  to  the  Ward  gathering.  There  was 
hardly  a  horse  out  that  was  not  a  hunter  of  some  calibre,  light, 
medium,  or  heavy ;  hardly  a  man  was  riding  who  did  not  mean  to 
see  some  of  the  fun — which,  judged  by  the  carriages,  looked  like 
an  early  rehearsal  of  the  Derby — if  he  could  not  compass  the 
whole.  I  should  have  stated  that  the  meet  was  originally  printed 
on  the  card  for  Norman's  Grove ;  but  Dunboyne  was  selected,  I 
suppose  on  account  of  its  stable  accommodation  and  greater 
capability  of  holding  the  aggregation  of  carriages  and  horses ; 
fortunately,  perhaps,  for  greater  numbers  were  not  desirable  by 
any  means.  The  assizes  are  going  on  now  in  Ireland,  while 
Croydon  has  drawn  off  not  a  few  of  our  regular  hunting  men. 
But  we  are  at  last  in  motion,  leaving  Dunboyne  behind,  crossing 
the  Navan  line,  and  in  half  a  mile  or  so  we  turn  into  a  green  field, 
where  the  mixed  multitude  of  red  and  darker  colours  take  their 
places,  for  in  a  minute  or  two  the  pack  will  be  laid  on.  Just  now 
they  are  very  quiet  in  a  corner  of  the  field  by  Charley  and  Jem 
Brindley's  horses,  a  pair  of  greys — Charley's  being  the  celebrated 
grey  huntress  of  six  or  seven  seasons,  fresh  as  a  four-year-old  and 
blooming  in  condition.  Away  they  go,  with  a  crash  of  melody, 
while  in  a  few  seconds  we  are  partially  jammed  in  an  opening  in 
a  quickset  hedge  large  enough  for  several  carts,  or  the  coaches  and 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  343 

six  which  drive  through  Acts  of  Parliament,  but  not  for  this  crowd 
— a  field  can  be  easily  lost  here.  I  think  I  lost  more.  There  is 
a  magnificent  prospect  before  us — green  fields,  no  woods  or 
plantations — all  open,  undulating  country  !  Nothing  big  has  been 
jumped  yet.  Presently  we  come  to  the  brook — I  think  the 
Pinkeen  Brook — known  here  as  the  Caulstown  River,  margined  by 
a  slight  bank  with  a  considerable  drop  on  the  far  side.  A  number 
have  got  safely  over,  for  I  see  them  a  field  ahead,  and  going  fast. 
I  believe  C.  Brindley,  Lord  Langford,  and  a  host  more  got  down, 
or  well-nigh  down,  at  it.  My  immediate  predecessor,  a  south- 
country  lord,  is  on  his  back  grasping  the  reins,  but  happily  on  the 
right  side.  I  hardly  know  him — indeed,  I  haven't  the  honour  at 
all — but  an  introduction  is  not  necessary  in  these  struggles ;  so, 
landing  safely,  I  hope  he  ain't  hurt.  "Not  the  least,  but  my  horse 
can't  jump  one  bit."  It  was  a  widish  experience,  and  perhaps 
his  hunter  was  more  used  to  banks  and  walls  in  the  land  of  his 
practice.  On  we  go.  It  would  be  uninteresting  and  mere  sur- 
plusage to  tell  the  townlands  we  pass  by  and  through.  We  have 
galloped  by  two  farmsteads,  and  already  some  of  us  have — strange 
phenomenon  ! — picked  our  way  over  a  bit  of  plough.  The  Fairy 
House  grand  stand  is  a  landmark  to  our  right,  and  now  we  cross 
the  road  over  which  so  many  thousands  will  probably  be  travelling 
to  the  Ward  Union  races  next  Easter  Monday.  There  is  a  slight 
dwell  here,  and  hunting  slackens  for  a  field  or  two  as  we  pass 
Porterstown  Farm.  Presently  I  see  a  collision  at  a  deep  ditch, 
in  which  Mr.  Murphy,  of  the  Phcenix  Park,  who  was  going  well 
up  to  this,  is  an  undeserving  victim  to  weight  and  the  vis  major 
— not  drowned,  however,  for  I  see  his  head,  caput  extulit  undis, 
appearing  on  the  bank  and  able  to  tell  of  his  knock-down.  The 
place  in  this  fence  thus  blocked,  Colonel  Forster  happily  lights  on 
another,  and  leads  us  over  gaily  on  his  very  hunting-like  and  clever 
grey  mare.  We  have  left  Ratoath  behind ;  hounds  are  sailing 
over  wide  green  fields ;  fences,  if  large,  are  not  intricate,  and  now 
we  come  to  a  road  with  a  narrow  cut  leading  into  it,  when  I  see 


344  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

my  immediate  predecessor,  or  the  flash  of  his  boots,  in  the  air,  his 
horse's  head  gently  pillowed  on  the  far  bank,  the  body  seemingly 
in  the  water.  Over  the  road,  over  two  or  three  very  large  fields, 
and  one  biggish  brook  if  the  right  place  was  not  hit.  I  see  some 
trees  to  the  right,  which  I  think  belong  to  Lagore;  some  wide  and 
rather  steep  fences  meet  us  here,  and  require  considerable  energy, 
for  we  have  been  going  nearly  thirty  minutes  over  this  big  country. 
I  see  a  very  heavy  man — Mr.  Meldon,  brother  to  the  M.P.  for 
Kildare — taking  them  straight  and  well  on  a  powerful  chestnut  still 
full  of  go.  But  now  we  are  at  Dunshaughlin  Poor-house,  well  known 
to  fox-hunting  Meath. 

The  tide  of  hunting  slackens  again  a  little,  as  our  quarry 
has  crossed  the  road  five  minutes  in  front,  as  we  hear  from  a 
rustic  on  a  bank.  And  now  the  hounds  are  running  once  more, 
leading  us  over  that  very  bit  of  country  which  was  the  track  of 
the  long-winded,  stout  fox,  the  hero  of  the  great  Dunshaughlin 
run  a  few  months  ago  (I  wish  I  could  write  weeks],  over  the  very 
same  big,  safe,  but  very  large  double,  which  a  loose  horse  does  in 
grand  style  beside  or  in  front  of  me.  A  great  sedgy  wide-topped 
bank.  I  believe  a  fox  was  lying  basking  on  it,  for  Mr.  Meldon 
presently  views  one  away,  and  the  hounds  notice  him  too  for  a 
bit,  faltering  in  their  discrimination  of  odours.  Then  we  work  on 
into  a  small  clump  of  trees,  protected  by  a  deep  ditch,  and  a  bit 
of  quickset,  which  requires  jumping;  and  here  the  Duke  of 
Connaught's  good  black  horse  came  down,  after  carrying  his 
rider  right  well  up  to  this  point.  Now  we  are  on  the  verge  of  that 
campo  abominato  (so  far  as  fences  are  concerned),  the  Bush  Farm ; 
some  few  enter  it,  the  majority  keep  outside  of  it  in  a  bight  of 
land  between  the  well-wired  brook  which  protects  this  farm  and 
the  Navan  line  of  rails  ;  hounds  race  on.  At  one  time  it  looks  as 
if  they  would  cross  the  metals,  and  a  gate  is  handy  here  ;  but  no  ! 
they  turn  provokingly  to  the  left,  and  we  are  on  the  wrong  side  of 
brook  and  wire — a  fair  number  who  have  persevered  to  this  point 
of  a  chase  which  has  well-nigh  run  out  the  sands  of  a  full  hour- 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  345 

glass.  The  wire  looks  menacing,  and  the  brook  is  of  uncertain 
depth  and  bottom.  In  two  places  where  cattle  have  gone  to  drink 
in  summer  the  passes  are  barricaded  up  with  solid  trees,  morticed, 
so  to  speak,  into  the  adjacent  banks.  In  vain  to  pull  at  them — 
they  are  solid  as  the  Monument.  Lots  of  volunteers  get  into  the 
stream  and  'tis  something  to  learn  that  'tis  not  deep,  and  that  the 
bottom  is  not  boggy.  Lord  Cloncurry,  wading  in  valiantly,  pulls 
down  one  section  of  wire  for  us  ;  but  horses,  perhaps  rather  jaded, 
instead  of  jumping  at  or  on  the  far  bank,  are  fain  to  jump  in  and 
stay  there — so  this  place  is  choked  up.  Lower  down,  where  this 
bight  of  land  ends,  I  hear  Lord  Rossmore  galloped  down,  put  his 
horse  into  the  stream,  and  cleared  the  solid  timber  fully  four  feet, 
I  think,  or  more,  judging  from  horseback,  and  got  away  in  grand 
style.  No  one  else  was  able  to  follow  him,  and  I  hope  he  caught 
the  hounds  for  his  own  and  his  hunter's  gallantry.  Meantime  we 
discovered  a  half-jumping,  half-scrambling  pass,  and  so  we  got 
clear.  After  galloping  over  a  couple  of  fields,  we  land  on  the 
Dunboyne  road  near  Woodpark,  and  learn  that  our  quarry  has 
run  the  road  for  a  bit,  and  most  opportunely  for  some  who  had 
long  since  given  up  pursuit  and  were  wending  their  way  home- 
wards. The  remainder  of  the  run  was  principally  road  work,  and 
I  believe  the  chase  extended  beyond  Kilrue,  so  that  to-day's  deer, 
if  none  the  worse  for  his  exertions  in  getting  over  some  fourteen 
or  fifteen  miles  of  country  and  road,  may  be  expected  ere  the 
season  closes  to  stretch  many  a  good  hunter,  and  call  on  his 
stamina  and  staying  powers  to  their  utmost  limits  of  tension.  I 
see  the  Dublin  dailies,  or  rather  the  leading  one,  make  the  run  not 
only  a  very  fine  one,  which  it  was,  and  over  a  superb  country ; 
but  a  very  tornado  for  speed,  which  it  was  not.  Hounds  ran 
merrily  over  a  county  which  ought,  if  we  dare  predicate  anything 
about  so  uncertain  and  unknown  an  element,  to  be  a  superb 
scenting  line ;  but  hounds,  this  notwithstanding,  dwelt  three  or 
four  times — two  of  them,  'tis  true,  were  at  roads — and  the  mere 
fact  that  four  or  five  heavy  men  who  started  indifferently  caught 


346  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

the  pack  by  fair  riding,  and  stayed  with  them,  tells  its  own  tale. 
Therefore,  in  one  respect  I  agree  with  the  verdict  that,  "  as  to  the 
hunt  itself,  no  finer  one  ever  has  been  since  that  memorable  one, 
some  five  years  ago,  when  Lord  Spencer  took  his  English  tenantry 
across,  paying  their  expenses,  and  supplying  them  with  drags  and 
lunch  at  Dunboyne."  As  a  chase,  I  have  seen  many  with  this 
pack  that,  in  the  criteria  or  elements  which  make  up  a  fine  run, 
rank  in  every  way  higher.  Several  ladies  rode  parts  of  the  run, 
and  rode  right  well.  The  roan  horse  so  conspicuous  on  "  the 
Hatchet"  day  in  Meath  went  as  well  to-day  for  several  miles. 
Another  lady  on  a  grey,  going  in  her  usual  style  of  brilliancy  and 
directness,  met  with  a  misadventure  at  a  bank ;  but  the  grey  that 
stayed  on  jumping  beautifully  all  through,  carried  Miss  Hussey, 
and  I  should  think  to  that  lady's  thorough  satisfaction.  Lord 
Cork,  who  was  riding  a  good  bay,  a  hunter  of  Lord  Howth's,  saw 
the  run  admirably,  and  was  pleased,  as  the  most  fastidious  must 
have  been,  with  his  Ward  Union  experience.  Pity  it  was,  perhaps, 
that  the  Drawing-Room  at  the  Castle  prevented  several  ladies 
from  "  assisting"  at  the  gathering.  For  my  own  part,  holding  that 
a  perfect  horsewoman  of  the  right  calibre,  when  well  mounted,  is 
a  beautiful  sight  as  she  skims  over  the  country,  I  maintain  that 
Lady  D.  Boyle's  absence  from  Dunboyne  to-day  marred  the 
symmetry  of  our  play — of  our  opera,  shorn,  as  it  wasr  of  a  prima 
donna  assoluta. 

On  the  same  day — much  about  the  same  hour — Mr.  George 
Brooke's  harriers  were  discoursing  beautiful  music  in  the  undula- 
ting pastures  round  Hortlands  and  Newtown,  and  the  flatter  lands 
near  Donadea.  It  is  no  small  praise,  no  little  tribute  of  incense 
to  their  owner  and  master,  to  record  that  one  or  two  of  the  hardest- 
riding  men  in  the  community  elected  this  pack  in  preference  to 
the  Ward  Union  hounds,  when  both  were  equally  accessible.  Such 
is  the  fact,  however,  and  their  enterprise  and  contempt  of  rank, 
fashion,  and  numbers  were  duly  rewarded. 

If  time  allows  me,  I  will  certainly  pay  an  early  visit*  to  the 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  347 

neighbourhood  of  the  Bush  Farm,  to  take  the  true  dimensions  of 
the  timber  jump  which  Lord  Rossmore's  black  hunter  carried  him 
over  yesterday,  including  the  water  and  slush  (if  any)  at  the 
bottom.  This  horse  had  made  himself  a  splendid  reputation  in 
the  hands  of  his  late  owner,  Mr.  M'Gerr;  but  few  things  attest  a 
big  heart  more  thoroughly  than  facing  a  solid  barrier  of  wood,  out 
of  water,  after  a  run  of  eight  or  nine  miles.  Glancing  at  the 
obstacle  from  horseback,  I  may  have  over-estimated  the  height, 
but  I  hardly  think  so. 

The  Meath  hounds  had  a  very  large  "  Drawing-Room "  or 
"  Castle "  meet  at  Woodlands,  on  Friday,  the  brilliancy  of  which 
was  somewhat  chequered  by  a  dubious  and  damp  morning.  How- 
ever, as  it  was,  there  was  a  goodly  gathering  of  rank,  fashion,  and 
numbers.  No  sport  resulted  till  Kilrue  was  reached  late  in  the 
evening,  when  a  fox  broke  away  in  sporting  style,  never  hanging 
for  an  instant,  and  gave  the  diminished  field  a  very  brilliant  fast 
gallop  almost  to  Oldtown,  coastways  five  miles  I  should  think, 
perhaps  more — done  very  fast,  specially  the  early  stage. 

In  sending  off  an  account  of  last  Wednesday's  proceedings 
with  the  Ward  Union  hounds,  I  omitted  to  mention  a  number  of 
particulars  and  incidents,  fearing  to  overcrowd  your  columns.  So 
the  brilliant  cannon  made  on  Charley  Brindley  and  his  grey  mare 
by  an  impetuous,  unrestrained  horse  and  horseman,  which  lodged 
him  in  the  pocket  of  a  deepish  brook,  and  the  untimely  fate. of  a 
promising  steeplechase  mare,  the  property  of  a  noble  and  popular 
lord,  were  unsaid  and  unsung.  The  sequel  of  the  latter  contretemps 
deserves  a  passing  allusion.  She  was  ridden  by  Clarke,  the  trainer, 
a  most  careful,  judicious  man,  and  his  lordship's  answer  to  a  letter 
from  him,  full  of  sorrow  for  the  accident,  was  characteristic :  "  If 
you  are  not  hurt,  Clarke,  I'm  rather  glad  than  otherwise,  and 
should  not  grieve  much  if  a  similar  fate  befel  two  others  in  training 
for  chasing/'  by  which  I  gather  that  the  peer  has  trained  off  racing 
and  chasing — the  theory  and  science  of  which  he  thoroughly  under- 
stands. I  should  also  have  stated  that  the  deer  of  Wednesday  was 
a  celebrity — Enfield. 


348  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 


XXIII. 

"  'Mid  lowering  skies,  o'ercast  and  tinged  with  red, 
Sol,  slowly  rising,  quits  his  ocean  bed." 


Woodlands  lawn,  meet  at — Kilrue — Bellinter  harriers — Dunshaughlin — Reisk 
Gorse — Mr.  Preston's  stables  and  pack— Louth. 

EARLY  rising  must  be  an  admirable  discipline,  seeing  it  is  so  full 
of  mortification,  not  only  to  the  flesh,  but  also  to  the  spirit.  I 
have  ceased  to  wonder  that  those  happy  few  who  have  attained  to 
these  pinnacles  of  virtue  and  good  habits,  should  wear  a  some- 
what Pharisaic  air,  and  look  down  on  the  less  gifted  denizens  of 
Sleepy  Hollow  and  dear  Dreamland  !  Well  may  they  enlarge  the 
phylacteries  of  their  admonitory  prosings.  They  have  the  start  of 
us.  They  have  caught  the  early  worm  !  They  may  talk  to  us 
weaker  vessels  in  a  stern  ex  cathedra  tone.  It  is  always  unfortunate, 
I  think,  that  nature  should  not  be  propitious  unto  those  who, 
lethargic  by  habit,  temperament,  and  weakness  of  will,  make 
occasionally  a  mighty  spasmodic  effort  to  shake  off  dull  sloth,  and 
so  on.  On  Friday  morning  nature  was  not  in  a  pleasant  mood  to 
commune  with.  There  had  been  a  continuation  of  what  one  may 
call  the  light  flying  frosts  of  the  last  week.  Then  succeeded  an 
abortive  snowstorm,  which  slided  imperceptibly  into  sleet.  And 
then,  lastly,  the  genius  of  Ireland  vindicated  herself.  Hibernia 
Plorans  wailed  much  and  long,  and  draped  herself  in  a  sable  livery 
of  inky  clouds.  Under  these  circumstances,  many  hundreds  to 
whom  a  meet  of  the  Meath  hounds  at  Woodlands  is  a.  jour  f trie 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  349 

in  their  annual  calendar,  set  out  for  the  trysting-place.  An  itinerary, 
which  I  should  think  veracious,  tells  me  the  distance  to  Woodlands 
is  about  seven  miles  from  Dublin,  in  a  nor'-westerly  direction — if 
so,  they  are  the  briefest  miles  I  ever  travelled — more  like  the 
French  kilometer,  to  my  thinking,  than  the  drawling,  never-ending 
mileage  of  this  island,  which  I  should  think,  Fin  Ma  Coul,  or  some 
giant  of  their  days,  invented  for  his  own  behoof. 

"  Those  Irish  miles,  those  Irish  miles, 
O  how  their  slow-pac'd  measure  riles  !  " 

Woodlands  itself  is  approached  by  two  routes  from  the  metro- 
polis, the  lower  one  winds  in  and  out  with  the  sinuous  gliding 
Liffey,  which  it  borders,  and  from  it  a  capital  view  is  obtained 
of  a  land  flowing  with  strawberries  and  cream  (in  summer),  the 
sunny  slopes  and  terraces  extending  from  the  upper  ground  by  the 
Phoenix  Park,  right  down  to  the  river's  edge,  or  rather  the  road- 
side ;  the  other  is  more  enjoyable  if  you  are  riding,  for  it  leads  all 
through  the  Phoenix  Park — grandest  of  all  city  parks;  to  which  the 
Bois,  the  Central,  the  Prater,  the  Prado,  the  parks  of  Hyde  or 
Regent  are  mere  toys  ;  and  here  you  can  indulge  your  hunter  or 
covert  hack  with  a  series  of  half-mile  spins  over  short  old  turf,  just 
now  in  the  primest  "going"  condition,  to  which  advantage  you 
may  add  the  fact  that  it  seems  considerably  shorter.  It  was  not 
my  fate  to  approach  Woodlands  by  either  of  these  picturesque 
routes  ;  and  coming  suddenly  into  the  park  avenue  from  a  country 
by-road,  I  confess  I  was  surprised  at  the  amazing  vehicular  pro- 
cession that  was  converging  towards  Lord  Analh/s  fine  castellated 
mansion,  which,  besides  its  great  intrinsic  beauties,  has  a  special 
interest  to  many  a  good  sportsman  and  hard  rider  on  either  side 
the  Channel,  in  that  it  is  indentified  with  Colonel  the  Hon. 
Charles  White,  now,  to  the  regret  of  many — grievously  ill — and 
forced  to  seek  health  under  southern  skies  (his  nephew,  the  Hon. 
L.  White  is  out  to-day).  The  Earls  of  Carhampton  once  owned 
this  splendid  park,  whose  hanging  woods,  wilderness  of  gorse, 


350  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

lakes,  and  cascades,  make  it  full  of  charming  and  most  varied 
vistas  of  beauty.     It  was  then  called  Luttrellstown,  and  there  is 
a  room  in  the  castle  in  which  'tis  said  King  John  slept.     Who 
lorded  it  over  these  broad  lands  prior  to  them,  'twere  hard  to  trace 
now ;  for  the  panorama  of  history  shifted  its  scenes  very  quickly 
in  this  neighbourhood,  and  Roderick  O'Connor,  the  last  king  of 
Ireland,  and  General  Monk — to  come  to  later  times — were  busy 
with  their  men  of  war  about  here.     Tradition  points  to  a  flour  mill 
under  Woodlands  as  built  on  the  site  of  one  which  went  by  the 
name  of  the  Devil's  Mill,  as  having  been  erected  by  Shitan  in  the 
dark  hours  of  a  single  night.     Whom  have  we  here  ?  nay,  rather 
whom  have  we  not?  The  park  of  700  acres  seems  peopled.   Dublin 
is  equitant  and  on  wheels.     I  cannot  attempt  anything  like  even 
an  outline  of  the  company — c'est  plus  fort  que  mot.     Conspicuous, 
however,  on  the  greensward  was  the  viceregal  brake,  with  its  four 
stately  brown  horses  and  smart  outriders.     It  held  a  large  party  of 
ladies,  among  whom  were  the  Marchioness  of  Drogheda,  Lady 
Powerscourt,  Lady  Dorothy  Boyle,  Lady  Mildred  Coke,  and  Lady 
May  Coke.      There  were  aides-de-camp  in  waiting  and  aides  o\it  of 
waiting.     The  Duke  of  Connaught  did  not  show,  but  his  equerry, 
Captain  Fitzgerald,  \vas  here,  and  I  think  he  had  mounted  Captain 
Crosbie.     The  Earl  of  Huntingdon  has  given  himself  a  day's  leave 
of  absence,  and  is  surveying  the  Meath  bitches  from  the  back  of  a 
very  smart   cob.      Lord   Rossmore   has   come   from  Culmullen ; 
Lord  Langford  from  Summerhill ;  General  Seymour  is  here  from 
the  Curragh.     The  Inniskillings  form  a  small  field  in  themselves. 
Their  colonel,  the  Hon.   C.  W.  Thesiger,  and  the  senior  major, 
Billington,  being  both  out ;  Captain  the  Hon.  T.  Scott,  Lord  Clon- 
curry,  Mr.  Charles  Hamilton,  General  and  Miss  Irwin,  Mr.  Bellany, 
Mr.  Bayley,  Mr.  Love,  Captain  and  Mrs.  Davis,  and  several  more 
hail  from  Kildare.    The  horse  talent  of  the  metropolis  is  represented 
by  Messrs.  M'Grane,  Manly,  M 'Donald,  Hillier,  Murphy  Gavacan, 
and  I  know  not  how  many  besides;  while  Mr.  Schawel,  of  Vienna, 
is  ready  for  sport  or  business  if  so  be  his  quick  eye  can  see  any- 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  351 

thing  good  enough  for  the  kings  and  kaisers  of  his  clientele.  The 
Ward  Union  men  are  here  in  force,  for  they  have  no  stag  to  chivy 
to-day,  having  had  a  most  prosperous  by-day  near  Navan  yester- 
day, when  Mr.  Turbitt's  drag-hounds  and  a  few  couple  from  Ash- 
bourne  found  a  truant  stag  at  Dunmoe,  and  hunted  him  hard  for 
thirty-seven  minutes,  till  he  was  fain  to  take  refuge  in  Stakillan, 
where  he  fought  fiercely  before  he  yielded  his  liberty  to  Jem 
Brindley  and  his  assistant ;  nor  should  I  forget  the  fourth  estate 
and  its  representatives. 

"  The  '  special's  '  eyev  in  a  fine  frenzy  rolling, 

Doth  glance  from  heav'n  to  earth,  from  earth  to  heav'n  ; 

And,  as  imagination  bodies  forth 

The  form  of  things  unknown,  the  special's  pen 

Turns  them  to  copy,  gives  to  airy  nothings 

A  local  habitation  and  a  name." 

The  coverts  of  Woodlands  are  run  through,  but  if  their  fox  has 
not  seen  the  list  card,  as  some  aver  foxes  do,  he  has  heard  the 
grinding  of  wheels  for  three-quarters  of  an  hour,  and  the  prancing 
of  innumerable  horsemen ;  so  he  has  vacated  their  haunts,  and  we 
too  now  pass  on  to  Hollywood  Rath,  three  or  four  miles  distant — 
often  a  sure  find,  to-day  foxless,  but  not  foodless  or  wineless. 
Here  a  fresh  array  of  sportsmen  turn  up — men  whose  experience 
told  them  they  were  not  likely  to  have  the  run  of  the  season  from 
Woodlands.  The  day  brightens,  the  air  is  warm  and  muggy,  and 
altogether  things  look  far  more  like  hunting  in  comfort  than 
a  couple  of  hours  ago.  Ballymacarney  is  our  next  point  of  in- 
vestigation— a  splendid  gorse,  but  requiring  a  great  deal  of 
drawing.  The  last  time  we  were  here  "  we  made  ante-chamber," 
as  the  Gauls  say,  to  a  most  reluctant  home-sick  fox  for  an  hour  or 
so,  who  mocked  us  at  last  by  emerging  for  a  field  or  two,  and 
then  retiring  to  his  fortress.  That  day  the  weather  was  fearful. 
To-day  the  waiting  was  very  bearable,  the  air  was  so  spring-like, 
and  the  hounds  were  so  full  of  tongue  in  the  gorse  that  every 
moment  we  expected  the  signal,  and  it  does  come  at  last — a  bank 


352  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

and  ditch  are  jumped  or  crept  up,  and  two  fields  are  galloped  over, 
when  our  fox  is  viewed  stealing  back.  There  are  a  good  many 
footpeople  between  him  and  his  gorse,  and  they  do  all  they  can  to 
cut  him  off;  but  his  point  is  made  good  notwithstanding,  nor  will 
he  leave  even  after  half  an  hour's  more  dusting  through  the  thicket. 
His  vixen  has  come  back  too,  and  here  they  mean  to  stay.  Like 
MacMahon  in  the  Malakoff,  id  je  suis  et  fy  reste  was  the  watch- 
word of  each,  and  they  carried  it  out,  wearing  out  our  master's 
patience.  Half  an  hour  more  sees  a  long  train  trotting  along  the 
well-known  causeway  to  Kilrue  Gorse,  which  is  looked  upon  as 
a  certain  find ;  nor  did  it  either  disappoint  or  detain  us  ten 
minutes.  Away  they  flash  in  purple  and  white  and  black  over  the 
green  fields  towards  Kilrue  ruins  long  before  the  tail  men  (of 
whom  I  was  one)  get  into  the  covert  field.  To  gallop  back  over 
the  causeway  and  cut  in  with  them,  if  they  turned  to  the  right, 
seemed  the  wisest  course.  I  tried  it,  with  bad  effect,  my  horse 
slipping  on  the  greasy  stones,  and  giving  his  rider  and  himself 
a  wrench.  The  ruins  are  past  by  a  select  few  now,  but  no  sign  of 
hounds  or  horsemen  is  visible.  I  see  some  footprints,  so  galloping 
on,  jumping  a  few  singles,  at  last  I  get  near  them  in  Fleenstown ; 
but  I  have  gone  too  fast  to  put  on  an  extra  spurt  here,  and  they 
seem  going  faster  than  I  can  now.  Some  larch-covered  little 
knolls  appear  on  the  left  hand ;  will  the  fox  try  them  ?  How 
selfish  it  is,  doubtless,  to  long  for  a  check ;  but  how  fervently  we 
pray  for  one  !  None,  however,  is  forthcoming,  and  the  Ashbourne 
road  is  now  reached ;  a  small  hedge  and  ditch  leads  out  of  it  into 
a  large  grass  field  known  as  the  Moated  Field,  down  its  length 
we  gallop,  jump  into,  or  gate  it  into,  a  by-road,  pass  by  the  chapel 
of  Donoughmore,  follow  Macadam's  pathway  for  a  few  hundred 
yards,  jump  a  stone-faced  bank,  to  find  ourselves  in  a  valley 
through  which  flows  a  stream  known  as  the  Broad  Meadow  Water, 
which  seems  to  have  two  or  three  branches.  The  first  is  wired, 
only  the  strands  have  been  pulled  down  in  a  convenient  spot,  the 
next  requires  force,  and  causes  delay,  and  now  fording  the  brook 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  353 

we  wind  up  a  furzy  glen,  over  which  I  watched  stag-hounds  hunting 
beautifully  some  six  or  seven  weeks  ago  (the  scene  just  looking 
like  a  fox-hunt)  on  to  the  table  land  ;  above  this  there  is  a  check 
of  a  few  moments.  This  is  Greenoge,  very  familiar  to  Ward 
Union  men,  and  then  fast  and  slow  the  line  leads  on  to  Fieldstown, 
and,  I  believe,  close  to  Oldtown,  where  the  pack  were  stopped, 
owing  to  the  late  hour  and  distance  from  the  kennels.  A  stone- 
faced  bank  just  at  the  end  emptied  one  or  two  good  saddles  ;  .but 
of  this  latter  part  I  cannot  profess  to  give  any  account,  having 
stopped  near  the  wired  brook,  finding  my  horse  very  lame ;  nor 
did  I  see  any  of  the  run,  save  in  a  diminishing-  perspective.  I 
fancy,  though  not  very  long  (five  or  six  miles),  it  will  be  held 
a  very  good  one,  and  I  think  the  bit  from  Kilrue  to  Donoughmore 
Chapel,  or  even  to  the  furzy  glen,  was  brilliantly  fast.  Some 
fifteen  or  eighteen  men  alone  stayed  on  to  the  close  out  of  the 
vast  number  at  the  gathering  point,  among  them  the  master, 
Mr.  Dunville,  Lords  Rossmore  and  Langford,  Mr.  Trotter  and 
Messrs.  Butler,  Chapman,  Loyd,  Rose,  Bayley,  Thunder, 
M'Donough,  Captain  P.  Butler,  and  Mr.  Kennedy.  Curiously 
enough,  the  following  day  found  some  of  our  party  pursuing 
a  flying  stag  in  much  the  same  tract  of  country ;  for,  on  Saturday, 
the  icth  inst,  one  of  the  most  gloriously  fine  days  we  have  been 
vouchsafed  hitherto,  the  Ward  Union  hounds  went  forth  from  their 
kennels  to  meet  a  large  throng  of  carriages,  coaches,  and  riders 
by  the  ninth  mile-stone  on  the  Dublin  road.  When  I  say  coaches, 
there  were  possibly  two  or  three,  but  I  can  only  speak  from 
observation  of  one,  that  of  the  3rd  Dragoon  Guards,  which  was 
pretty  fairly  filled ;  but  of  riders  there  was  a  very  large  number. 
The  programme  of  the  day  was  to  enlarge  the  deer  (a  red  one) 
close  by  the  kennels ;  so  we  rode  right  through  the  yard  at 
Ashbourne,  and  in  the  very  next  field  the  hounds  started  off  at 
score,  as  if  they  were  going  to  take  us  to  the  village  of  Bally- 
madun;  but  a  sharp  turn  at  right  angles  brought  us  to  a  road 
where  there  was  a  delaying  fence ;  across  it,  and  over  about  a  mile 

2  A 


354  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

or  rather  more  of  sound  grass  lancj,  very  irregularly  fenced.  Soon 
after  this  we  gained  a  view  near  another  road,  the  boundary  fences 
of  which  had  a  depleting  effect  on  our  plethoric  field ;  and  then 
we  got  into  rather  a  nice  bit  of  grass  country,  which  for  this  year 
rode  marvellously  light  and  springy;  now  Oldtown  village  being 
passed  on  the  left,  a  beautiful  tract  of  light  grass  trends  on 
seawards,  Lambay  Island  rears  its  tall  form  out  of  the  ocean  right 
in  front  of  you ;  and  to  tell  you  of  your  whereabouts,  supposing 
you  are  somewhat  de  payst,  like  myself,  the  white  steam  from 
a  locomotive  floats  away  on  the  thin  air  current,  and  this  proves 
that  we  are  on  the  verge  of  the  northern  line.  At  this  point 
I  retired  from  the  fray,  having  the  prospect  of  a  very  long  ride 
homewards ;  but  I  learnt  next  day  that  pursuit  was  carried  on  with 
unslackened  vigour  to  a  point  near  Balriggan,  double  the  distance, 
and  a  good  deal  more  than  I  had  travelled  myself,  and  that  about 
twenty-five  saw  the  finish  right  well,  among  whom  was  a  Louth 
lady,  whose  steering  in  a  very  intricate  country  (to  use  mild 
language)  elicited  much  praise  from  my  informant. 

Friday  was,  I  hear,  very  propitious  to  a  small  field  of  about 
thirty,  who  met  the  Bellinter  harriers  at  Scurlockstoun,  a  place  not 
far  from  Larracor,  of  fox-hunting  and  Diaconal  celebrity.  Fortu- 
nate in  meeting  a  stout  hare  at  once,  a  traveller  possibly,  they 
took  him  or  her  on  by  Miltown  and  Bragganstown  to  Kilcarty, 
thence  into  Dunsany  Park  by  the  Black  Lodge,  as  'tis  called,  and 
there  a  fresh  hare  interrupted  the  even  tenor  of  the  pursuit  for 
a  few  minutes ;  but  the  mistake  was  soon  righted,  and  the 
bitches  drove  their  quarry  on  to  Batter  John,  and  then  to  Kilteel, 
which  place  proved  fatal  to  this  good  hare's  powers  of  endurance. 

Few  of  hare  pursuits  have  exceeded  this  run  of  Friday  last  in 
brilliancy  this  season  or  any  other  season.  Those  familiar  with 
the  country  make  this  chase  about  eight  miles,  done  in  a  little  over 
the  hour;  and  men  whose  experience  ranges  over  many  packs 
extol  it  as  a  very  fine  performance.  On  the  map  it  measures  well, 
and  confirms  the  statements  made  about  its  distance.  On  the 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  355 

whole  it  was  a  white-stone  day,  if  not  the  very  whitest  in  the  acta 
of  this  beautiful  pack.  They  had  some  more  hunting  in  the 
evening,  but  not  worthy  of  record. 

My  programme  for  Monday,  the  i2th,  was,  I  confess,  an 
ambitious  one,  involving  much  travelling,  and  depending  for  its 
fulfilment  on  a  happy  combination  of  circumstances. 

The  Meath  hounds  met  at  Bellinter ;  a  lawn  meet,  sure  to  be 
fashionably  and  numerously  attended ;  and  where  detaining  in- 
fluences, in  the  shape  of  a  self-imposed  necessity  of  visiting  a 
beautiful  interior  and  possibly  wandering  on  to  the  breakfast-room, 
promised  at  least  a  quarter  of  an  hour's  law.  My  wish  and 
intention  was  to  visit  Bellinter  early,  spend  some  time  in  the 
kennels  there,  join  the  Meath  hounds,  and  see  the  first  page  of  its 
day's  diary  carried  out  in  action ;  then,  cantering  along  some  five 
miles  of  turf  sidings,  reach  Gerrardstown  Gate  in  time  to  cast  my 
lot  in  with  the  Ward  Union  hounds,  who  were  told  off  for  that 
fixture  at  1.30  p.m.  The  precise  punctuality  of  the  stag-hounds 
was  the  rock  ahead,  on  which  I  feared  my  intentions  were  likely 
to  founder.  As  it  fortuned,  I  may  say,  like  the  Yankee  young 
lady  when  asked  how  she  liked  a  certain  very  grand  concert,  "  I 
guess  there  was  nary  a  hitch  in  the  machinery." 

Beginning  with  the  morning,  nothing  could  well  have  been 
more  discouraging.  A  gale,  rain-laden,  was  blowing  hard  from  the 
west,  and  the  vestiary  barometer  certainly  pointed  to  overalls, 
leggings,  and  a  rough-and-tumble  plough-country  get-up.  By 
7  a.m.  things  mended  a  bit,  and  faith  in  the  shepherd's  saw,  "rain 
at  7,  fine  at  n,"  was  a  flattering  unction  to  cheer  one  on  the  long, 
straight,  and  somewhat  dreary  road  between  Dunboyne  and  Bel- 
linter ;  which,  however,  if  tradition  be  reliable,  is  rich  in  points  of 
historical  interest  and  illustration  of  the  earlier  annals  of  our  island, 
civil  and  ecclesiastical.  As  our  early  friend  and  foe  Horace  says, 
Sed  non  nunc  erit  his  locus.  Bellinter  has  been  happily  reached, 
the  kennels  and  stables  there  visited,  of  which  we  will  hope  to 
say  something  by-and-by.  Just  now  the  signs  and  tokens  of  a 


3$6  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

populous  meet  fill  the  eye  and  absorb  our  attention;  a  word  or 
two  of  preliminary  description  will  clear  the  way.  Bellinter,  Mr. 
Preston's  residence,  is  a  fine  square  stone  building,  with  wide 
wings,  entered  by  a  rather  long  flight  of  handsome  steps.  I 
should  think  it  dated  from  the  era  of  the  earlier  Georges,  and  was 
the  country  seat  of  the  Lords  of  Tara,  whom  Mr.  Preston  repre- 
sents. The  views  to  the  south  and  west  embrace  the  Boyne  and 
its  valley,  with  Bective  just  opposite  the  breakfast-room  windows. 
In  front  is  a  very  spacious  court-yard,  and  beyond  it  the  level 
park,  girt  by  a  wide  belt  of  old  timber,  while  in  its  centre  is  a 
private  racecourse  marked  out  by  white  posts.  Tara,  of  poetic 
fame,  which  Moore's  threnody  has  made  a  household  word  to  so 
many,  rears  its  gentle  elevation  just  beyond  the  park;  while, 
fringing  the  Boyne,  a  little  beyond  Bellinter,  are  Ardsallagh  and 
Dowdestown  demesnes.  The  court-yard  is  now  choke-full  of 
carriages  and  led  horses ;  two  strong  currents  are  setting  '  in 
opposite  directions,  one  to  the  buffet  and  breakfast-room,  the 
other  outwards.  Among  the  absentees  for  several  weeks  from 
the  Meath  hunting  field  was  the  Marquis  of  Headfort — he  is  here 
to-day — and  so  are  Lords  Howth  and  Langford,  Lady  Wallscourt 
and  Lady  E.  Stanhope,  Lieut. -Colonel  Fraser,  V.C.,  General 
Herbert  and  party,  Lady  Stourton  and  party,  Mr.  Trotter,  Mr. 
Howard,  Captains  Kearney,  M'Calmont,  Smith,  Davidson,  Colt- 
hurst,  and  Lowe;  the  Messrs.  Tiernan  from  Louth,  and  any 
number  of  Meath's  sons  and  daughters,  including  Miss  Waller, 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Garnett,  Major  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Donaldson, 
Major  and  Mrs.  Johnson,  Mr.  and  Miss  Winter,  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Briscoe.  The  half  of  an  hour  I  hoped  for  has  been  thinned  to  well- 
nigh  thirty  minutes,  pleasantly  spent  I  am  sure  by  many  and  most 
of  our  assembly,  for  the  day  has  changed  for  the  better,  and  is  now 
rainless  and  comparatively  still.  A  fox  is  found  in  the  woods 
near  the  Balsoon  Gate  very  quickly ;  he  very  considerately  swings 
past  the  house  of  Bellinter  and  the  Kennel  Woods,  giving  the  lady 
gallery  a  good  view  of  the  proceedings ;  circles  round  to  the 


HIBERNIA   VENATICA.  357 

Lismullen  entrance,  and,  crossing  some  water  meadows,  re-entered 
Bellinter,  and  in  his  second  exodus  beat  the  pack  out  of  scent 
near  Killmessan  station.  Dowdestown  was  the  second  draw,  and 
I  left  them  approaching  its  confines — having  a  very  scanty  margin 
of  time  left  for  my  canter  to  Gerrardstown  Gate.  Before  leaving 
Bellinter,  let  me  record  rather  a  smart  riposte  of  a  noble  lord  in 
the  field  to-day.  There  is  a  colony  of  peafowl  at  Bellinter,  who 
seem  to  increase  and  multiply  exceedingly,  spite  of  the  foxes  in 
their  vicinity.  Bad  tenants  for  villas  and  places  on  a  small  scale, 
they  are  beautiful  as  a  garden  in  motion  when  they  have  ample 
scope  and  large  buildings  to  set  them  off,  as  here.  To-day  I  saw 
no  peahens  about,  so  I  suppose  they  were  better  occupied ;  but 
the  peacocks  were  strutting  about  everywhere,  and  spreading  their 
tails  out  like  fans.  A  certain  light  cavalry  captain,  whom  we  look 
on  as  the  glass  of  fashion  and  mirror  of  sartorial  neatness,  whose 
appointments  are  always  faultless,  whose  horses  are  most  work- 
manlike, suddenly  rode  into  the  stable-yard,  and,  like  Japanese 
fans,  outspread  I  know  not  how  many  peacocks'  tails,  to  the 
confusion  and  terror  of  a  handsome  young  horse  he  was  riding. 

He  had  just  finished  his  peacock  story,  when  Lord cut  in 

with,  "They  were  jealous  of  you,  P.!  depend  on't,  they  were 
jealous  of  you ! "  Before  setting  off  for  Gerrardstown  presently, 
I  should  mention  that  this  pack  had  a  capital  hunting  run  yester- 
day from  Balrath,  two  rings  round  the  huge  fields  of  the  place, 
then  a  break  into  the  country  leading  on  towards  Rathmore,  then 
a  turn  into  Allenstown,  and  a  finish  at  the  Hill  of  Faughan. 

A  very  liberal  road  is  that  leading  from  Lismullen  (Sir  J. 
Dillon's)  Park  to  Gerrardstown  Laurels  fox-covert,  with  good 
sidings,  on  which  you  might  almost  train  a  chaser.  Their  pre- 
sence enabled  me  to  be  in  ample  time  for  the  stag-hounds,  with 
five  minutes  to  the  good  to  change  horses  and  look  about.  A 
large  meet  it  was,  but  almost  exclusively  of  horsemen,  for  the 
carriage  element  was  conspicuously  absent.  I  shall  not  give  a  list 
even  of  the  notables  I  can  recollect,  merely  remarking  that  the 


358  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

3rd  Dragoons  and  Inniskillings  were  in  strong  force,  and  that 
the  hard-riding  element  was  prevalent.  In  a  few  minutes  we  learn 
that  our  object  to-day  was  to  catch,  if  possible,  a  truant  deer,  who 
had  been  at  large  for  many  weeks  and  had  wandered  off  from 
Moyglare  to  Kilbrew,  where  he  was  last  seen.  The  deer  cart 
was  in  attendance  in  case  we  missed  the  outlaw,  so  we  may  be 
said  to  have  had  two  strings  to  our  metaphorical  bow.  Pleasant 
paths  through  wide  pastures  led  us  to  Kilbrew ;  and  we  had  just 
reached  the  rustic  bridge  which  spans  the  brook  by  the  stick 
covert  and  plantation,  when  Charley  Brindley's  quick  eye  caught 
a  glimpse  of  our  deer  just  outside  the  grove  of  trees.  Hounds 
were  clapped  on  at  once.  We  have  a  mile  or  so  of  grass  gallop- 
ing, without  any  special  necessity  for  jumping,  as  there  is,  strange 
to  say,  a  line  of  open  gates  for  the  entire  distance.  Then  we  get 
among  inclosures.  Hounds  are  running  fast,  and  we  are  con- 
fronted soon  by  a  very  large  bank  and  brook,  which  a  steady, 
well-trained,  and  rather  sticky  horse  would  do  far  better  and  safer 
than  a  bold,  high-couraged,  flying  hunter,  for  it  seems  too  large  to 
cover  at  a  single  spring.  Presently  I  see  Mr.  M'Gerr  on  the  far 
side  of  it,  with  the  pack  all  round  him.  I  fear  his  intrepidity  was 
but  ill  rewarded,  as  I  think  the  move  only  led  to  an  even  more 
difficult  and  bigger  obstacle.  We  who  decline  to  follow  his  lead, 
have  the  alternative  of  a  quasi  ravine,  which  cannot  be  jumped, 
and  can  only  be  descended  by  a  sort  of  Toboggining  process, 
with  which  horses  in  this  country  should  and  ought  to  be  familiar, 
ere  they  can  be  termed  "  hunters."  Jem  Brindley  gets  over  this 
chasm  first ;  some  wait  for  their  turn,  others  gallop  round,  to  cut 
in  presently.  After  a  mile  or  two  we  are  trotting  through  the 
main  street  of  Dunshaughlin,  our  deer  having  skirted  it  to  the 
left,  crossing  a  bit  of  swampy  land,  not  quite  safe  for  riders,  I 
fancy.  Then  we  gallop  across  the  lands  of  Newtown,  cross  the 
Navan  line,  and  are  streaming  away,  apparently  bound  for  Piper's 
Hill ;  when  we  find  that  our  deer  has  turned  to  the  right,  run  over 
the  shoulder  of  Cultromer  Hill  (a  very  small  elevation  it  is),  and 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  359 

dipping  into  the  valley,  has  crossed  the  by-road  from  Culmullen 
and  Batterstown  j  thence  it  is  about  a  mile  or  a  mile  and  a  half 
over  an  easy  grassy  line  to  "  the  Hatchet,"  where  he  turned  sharp 
to  the  right,  was  pursued  to  Mulhussey,  though  not  at  express 
pace,  and  here,  owing  to  some  wrong  information  from  a  native, 
acted  on  by  the  staff,  the  clue  was  totally  lost.  It  was,  in  my 
opinion,  a  very  fine  pursuit  over  a  splendid  line,  the  which,  if  a  fox 
could  be  induced  to  travel  twice  in  his  lifetime  in  front  of  a  pack, 
he  ought  to  be  made  free  of  every  hen-roost  and  pheasant-covert 
in  the  county.  What  prevented  the  last  five  or  six  miles  of  it 
being  quite  first-class  was  a  fact  which  I  only  learnt  the  day  after, 
namely,  that  two  or  three  hard-riding  men,  whose  experience  ought 
to  have  made  them  more  considerate  to  their  fellows,  and  whose 
riding  prowess  requires  no  new  proofs,  having  been  temporarily 
thrown  out  by  some  mischance  or  other,  met  two  couple  or  so  of 
the  hounds  who  were  leading  a  long  way  ahead  of  the  body  of  the 
pack,  by  a  road  or  railway  bridge  (I  forget  which  at  the  moment), 
and  incontinently  went  away  with  them,  to  the  detriment  of  our 
line,  who  were  with  the  main  body  of  the  pack  some  fields  in  their 
rear.  They  took  on  their  deer  a  mile  or  two  further  than  the 
point  where  the  pack  threw  up — by  Moyglare  and  the  Police 
Barrack — till  "  the  Duke,"  whom  I  should  have  introduced 
formally  to  your  readers  before  this,  took  to  a  stream  and  became 
thoroughly  master  of  the  situation. 

I  learnt  the  day  after  that  by  my  rapid  spurt  to  Gerrardstown 
Gate,  I  had  six  to  four  the  best  of  the  fun,  the  Meath  proceedings 
having  been  marked  by  mediocrity  and  tameness.  Lismullen 
foxless  to-day  (for  a  wonder) ;  Slator's  Gorse  tenanted  'tis  true, 
but  by  a  most  domestic,  nostalgic  type  of  fox ;  while  the  hunting 
from  Walshe's  Gorse,  towards  Somerville,  backwards  and  forwards, 
though  edifying  to  hound  men,  was  not  sufficiently  animating  to 
please  a  field  so  fastidious  as  the  Meath. 

Vento  rubet  aurca  Phoebe  I  This  a  certain  gentleman  rendered 
"  Phoebe  blushes  for  the  wind."  Very  true  and  literal  no  doubt; 


360  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

hardly,  however,  explanatory  of  the  poet's  idea,  which  I  take  it 
was  that  when  wind  was  imminent  the  golden  orb  of  the  moon 
became  suffused  with  red ;  for  the  present,  however,  the  literal 
version  will  suit  our  meaning  best,  and  we  will  hope  that  Phoebe, 
none  other  than  Diana  of  the  chase,  has  incarnadined  her  brows 
and  bowed  her  classic  head  at  the  tumult  of  rushing  winds  and 
passionate  gusts  which  have  prevailed  for  many  hours,  with  hardly 
an  interval  of  pause  or  respite.  There  have  been  showers,  but 
not  heavy  enough  to  lull  the  wind  force,  and  'tis  needless  to 
remark  that  the  plague  of  winds  has  been  most  hostile  to  hunting 
(by  the  way,  the  New  York  Herald  foretold  it  most  accurately). 
On  the  morning  of  the  i3th  inst.  the  wind,  which  had  been  on 
the  riot  all  night  long,  did  not  appear  in  the  least  subdued  or 
worn  out,  but  there  was  a  black  horizon  all  around,  which  looked 
as  if  rain  would  be  our  portion  ere  many  hours,  and  rain  of  the 
heaviest  kind.  As  the  day  wore  on,  however,  the  rain  menace 
disappeared,  blue  became  the  ruling  colour  above,  the  sun  shone 
out  quite  in  strength  at  intervals,  and  but  for  that  almost  ceaseless 
leonine  wind,  we  could  have  said  many  pleasant  things  about  the 
day  and  its  dispensations. 

The  Meath  hounds  were  announced  as  meeting  at  Dun- 
shaughlin  on  Tuesday,  the  i3th,  a  non-hunting  Ward  day.  A 
state  ball  at  the  Castle  on  Monday  night  has  in  itself  paved  the 
way  for  a  large  accession  to  the  ordinary  Meath  field,  for  the  only 
rival  is  the  Kildare  meet  at  the  flag-staff,  Curragh  Camp ;  neither 
comparable  in  distance,  convenience,  country,  nor  surroundings, 
and  moreover  more  dangerous  (to  hats  at  least)  in  such  wind- 
storms as  we  are  now  experiencing.  My  Dunshaughlin  expe- 
riences do  not  carry  me  back  very  many  years;  but  certainly 
I  never  saw  a  smarter  meet  in  the  county  than  to-day's,  and  the 
lateness  of  the  hour  of  drawing — high  noon — enabled  one  to  take 
leisurely  surveys  of  the  gala  field.  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Con- 
naught  is  to  the  fore  with  his  equerry,  Captain  M.  Fitzgerald, 
Captain  Bagot,  and  officers  of  the  Rifle  Brigade.  The  3rd 


HIBERNIA   YEN  A  TIC  A.  361 

Dragoon  Guards  send  Captain  Parke,  Mr.  Hartigan,  Mr.  Ward- 
rop,  and  Mr.  Dundas,  the  latter  none  the  less  cheery  though  His 
Lordship  did  not  win  the  International  at  Croydon,  as  many 
hoped;  of  the  Inniskillings  are  Captains  Bloomfield,  Mills,  Mr. 
Ellis,  and  others.  There  is  what  the  Yankees  call  a  "ring"  of 
ladies,  which  term  the  pleasant  gossiping  author  of  "  The  Two 
Americas  "  explains  by  supposing  that  "  'tis  because  there  is  no 
end  to  them."  From  Louth,  Dublin,  and  Meath  do  they  muster, 
beautifully  mounted  for  the  most  part,  and  faultlessly  appointed ; 
among  the  district  visitors  or  visitors  to  the  district  being  Lady 
Macnaughten,  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Donaldson,  Mrs.  Osborne,  the 
Misses  Smith,  the  Misses  Gradwell,  Miss  Coleridge,  Mrs.  Green- 
hill,  Miss  Hussey;  Major-General  Herbert  is  here  with  Captain 
Crosbie  ;  half  the  Dublin  staff  is  in  the  field,  and  not  a  few  Ward 
Union  pursuers.  Kildare  contributes  its  quota.  Lord  Howth 
shows  his  loyalty  to  hunting  by  turning  his  back  on  his  salmon 
fishing  in  the  Blackwater  and  Boyne,  where  his  keeper  killed  a 
35lb.  fish  yesterday  or  the  day  before  (I  forget  which).  Lord 
Rossmore  has  done  his  friends  a  kindness  by  giving  convincing 
proof  that  he  is  still  sound  in  wind,  neck,  and  limb,  though  the 
two  latter  have  been  so  frequently  imperilled  of  late.  Fair 
women,  brave  men,  good  horses;  give  us  now  but  a  resolute 
point-making  fox  in  the  Poor-house  Gorse,  and  we  shall  be  con- 
tent in  spite  of  this  tempest,  which  makes  us  keep  our  heads  at 
a  most  unpleasant  angle,  lest  a  capful  of  wind  should  make  us 
hatless  for  the  day.  While  on  the  subject  of  hats,  I  may  mention 
that  a  gentleman  of  the  3rd  Dragoons  showed  a  noble  disregard 
to  his  headgear  yesterday  when  hunting  with  the  Ward  Union 
hounds,  for  he  lost  his  somewhere  about  the  first  large  fence,  and 
rode  some  eight  or  nine  miles  in  the  best  style  without  it.  To-day 
the  most  sensibly  dressed  head  I  saw  was  a  young  gentleman's, 
who  wore  one  of  those  old-fashioned  sort  of  travelling  nightcaps 
which  tie  under  the  chin  and  cover  the  ears  well.  I  suppose  his 
hat  had  been  blown  to  foreign  parts  early  in  the  day.  The 


362  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

Poor-house  Gorse  was  soon  vocal,  but  whether  a  dog  or  vixen 
was  chopped  there  I  cannot  say.  A  few  fields  reached,  fortunately 
by  open  gates,  bring  us  to  Lagore.  We  search  its  clumps  of 
trees,  but  search  in  vain,  so  the  body  Venatic  m.oves  on  in  long 
file  to  the  Reisk  Gorse.  Here  the  find  was  quick  as  a  flash  of 
thought ;  the  departure  nearly  as  rapid.  Green  fields  of  large 
area ;  open  gates  worthy  of  Saxondom ;  a  dip  down  into  Kilbrew 
valley;  a  brook  and  jump  if  you  haven't  patience  to  go  for  a 
bridge ;  three  or  four  wide  grass  fields  (on  ground  with  the 
inclination  dead  against  you) ;  then  you  reach  a  road,  cross  it, 
and  run  parallel  to  it  for  a  few  fields ;  then  a  return  over  the 
same  grassy  hill  and  valley,  a  wide-sunk  fence  to  jump,  or  avoid 
if  you  can,  and  you  are  at  the  ruins  of  Kilbrew  House,  which,  as 
the  Yankees  say,  must  have  been  "  quite  a  place "  in  old  times ; 
the  offices  are  in  semi-ruin,  the  old  garden  wall  is  in  fair  order. 
The  hounds  hunt  up  to  the  latter,  and  there  all  trace  of  our  fox 
vanishes  mysteriously,  and  no  casting  regains  the  clue.  He  must 
have  lain  down  somewhere  while  the  pack,  who  had  been  driving 
at  tremendous  pace,  flashed  over  him  ;  for  fifteen  minutes  hounds 
ran  extremely  fast,  and  scent  seemed  superb.  The  remainder  of 
the  day  may  be  dismissed  in  a  line  or  two.  Corballis,  Corbalton, 
Gerradstown,  blank ;  some  larking  and  tumbling  about,  in  which 
a  noble  peer  was  the  choragus;  an  early  dispersion  trainwards 
and  homewards.  Much  of  the  gossip — I  should  say  horse  gossip 
of  hunting  fields — is  now  about  the  imminent  Red-coat  races 
which  loom  in  the  nearer  and  remoter  distances  :  remoter  in 
Meath,  where  the  friendly  contest  will  come  off  towards  the  close 
of  April ;  nearer  in  Kildare,  where  the  date  is  fixed  for,  I  think, 
the  4th  proximo.  I  understand  H.R.H.  the  Duke  of  Connaught 
will  be  an  actor  in  the  latter,  and  I  fully  expect  to  see  one,  at 
least,  of  his  hunters  play  a  prominent  part  in  the  light-weight 
class.  In  addition  to  these  prizes  for  hunters,  who  are  still  in 
possession  of  the  attributes  of  soundness  and  freshness  (not  "  the 
wild  freshness  of  morning "),  I  understand  that  there  will  be  a 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  363 

repetition  on  a  better  scale  of  the  spring  one-day  meeting  at  the 
Maze,  which  gave  so  much  pleasure  last  year  to  multitudes  from 
Belfast  and  the  surrounding  district,  combined  or  falling  in  with 
the  Killultagh  harrier  Red-coat  races.  Lord  Cole  gives  a  valuable 
cup  for  genuine  hunters  carrying  1531.  each,  two  miles  on  the 
flat;  Lord  E.  Hill's  generous  patronage  is  directed  to  a  lighter 
class  of  hunters.  Altogether  there  seems  every  reasonable  pro- 
spect of  the  hunting  season  of  1876-77  expiring  brilliantly,  and 
not  waning  into  inanition. 

The  capital  invested  annually  in  hunting  in  our  islands  now 
amounts  to  millions.  I  leave  statisticians  to  squabble  over  the 
precise  figures,  as  in  such  magnificent  proportions  a  few  thousands 
more  or  less  does  not  matter  much.  My  second  postulate  will 
be  conceded  freely,  I  fancy,  by  men  of  experience  and  common 
sense — that  is,  that  hunting  over  grass  is  the  cream  of  sport  for 
men,  hounds,  and  horses.  Hunting  over  ploughs  and  clays  is  in 
comparison  but  mudlarking — an  inferior  pastime,  slower  and  less 
spirit-stirring — 

"  As  sunlight  unto  moonlight,  or  as  water  unto  wine." 

It  is  far  more  expensive  in  the  wear  and  tear  of  horseflesh,  far 
more  injurious  to  the  farmer  !  Having  laid  down  these  axiomatic 
platitudes,  let  me  state  that  in  a  very  short  run  in  Meath  on 
Monday  with  the  fox-hounds  my  horse  never  trod  a  bit  of  plough, 
nor  did  he  ever  leave  turf  in  the  afternoon  in  a  run  of  some  eight 
or  nine  miles  with  the  stag-hounds  (half  a  mile  or  so  of  voluntary 
road  work  being  excepted).  During  a  long,  desultory,  bad  day 
with  the  Meath  fox-hounds  (yesterday),  relieved  only  by  a  twenty 
minutes'  gallop  of  great  pace  and  brilliancy,  your  scribe  cannot 
recollect  having  been  off  turf  for  a  moment,  running  or  drawing. 
These  are  pregnant  facts,  and  your  readers  may  possibly  find 
profit  in  their  application. 

' '  Fill  high  the  bowl  with  Samian  wine  ! 

(Bordeaux  for  choice) 
A  land  of  plough  shall  ne'er  be  mine  !  " 


364  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

Wednesday,  the  i5th,  was  ushered  in  with  showers  and  wind, 
but  the  afternoon  was  beautifully  clear,  crisp,  and  enjoyable. 
Those  who  went,  like  myself,  to  meet  the  Ward  Union  hounds  at 
Rathbeggan  had  their  journey  for  nothing,  as  the  pack  did  not 
meet,  in  consequence  of  the  death  of  Mr.  Maxwell,  of  Cruise  Rath. 
Known  personally  to  many  of  the  readers  of  The  Field,  and,  I 
believe,  loved  by  as  many  as  knew  him — a  master  of  harriers 
within  a  few  miles  of  such  a  metropolis  as  Dublin,  where  land  is, 
of  course,  much  enhanced  in  value  for  dairy  and  grazing  purposes, 
his  hounds  were  always  welcomed  with  whatever  field  they  brought. 
A  number  of  friends  recently  presented  Mr.  Maxwell  with  his 
portrait,  surrounded  by  a  few  couple  of  his  favourite  hounds, 
sitting  on  his  most  confidential  hunter. 

Those  who  aver  that  Ireland  is  not  a  country  where  finish  is 
appreciated,  ought  to  visit  the  kennels  and  stables  of  Bellinter,  a 
place  to  which  I  have  already  introduced  your  readers  in  this 
letter.  Overlooking  the  Boyne  valley,  with  drainage  naturally 
good  and  perfected  by  care,  the  most  fastidious  might  spend  an 
hour  or  two  here  without  finding  out,  save  through  the  ear,  the 
presence  of  twenty-five  or  thirty  couple  of  hounds  in  their  benches 
and  lodgings  close  to  him.  A  laurelled  walk  of  a  few  hundred 
yards  leads  to  them  from  the  house,  and  two  well-burnished 
brasses,  with  "  Kennels "  and  "  Letters "  on  a  postern,  arrest  the 
eye  at  once.  No  need  for  whip  or  overcoat,  as  Suter,  the  hunts- 
man, draws  each  bitch ;  she  "  suffers  herself  to  be  admired,"  then 
proceeds  leisurely  to  the  next  lodgings,  or  outer  court,  to  join  the 
other  objects  of  criticism.  Mr.  Preston  has  been  years  in  getting 
this  pack  to  its  present  high  standard,  and  many  of  the  smartest 
fox-hound  kennels  have  sent  him  drafts  after  drafts  of  their  smaller 
hounds  (bitches),  and  these  have  been  weeded  and  weeded  till 
none  but  the  best  and  fittest  remained.  Hence  they  are  harriers 
by  profession,  but  fox-hounds  of  the  purest  pedigree  by  race ;  and 
so  well  have  they  entered  to  hare,  that  few  packs  in  Ireland  can 
show  more  trophies  this  season.  Naturally  their  pace  is  very 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  365 

good,  or  men  like  Lords  Howth  and  Rossmore,  Captains  Candy 
and  Dundas,  would  not  throw  in  their  lot  with  them — very 
beautiful  singly,  it  is  as  a  pack  they  should  be  seen ;  so  I  will 
only  remark  that  the  Carlow  and  Island  Brilliant  of  three  seasons' 
experience,  Bella  of  one,  the  White  Rose,  the  Black  Sociable, 
with  Wistful  and  Priestess,  struck  me  as  gems.  After  a  glance 
at  the  benches  and  their  occupants,  you  will  find  a  very  comfort- 
able sitting  or  smoking  room,  writing  materials,  sporting  prints, 
and  no  "  compound  of  vile  smells  "  to  affect  enjoyment.  In  Suter, 
Mr.  Preston  has  a  most  able  adjutant.  The  stables  are  full  of 
hunters  of  the  highest  class  and  type — blood,  bone,  shape,  and 
performance  being  qualifications  without  which  no  horse  enters 
these  boxes,  or,  if  an  impostor  finds  his  way  there  on  false  pre- 
tences, he  is  very  soon  eliminated.  Grey  is  Mr.  Preston's 
favourite  colour,  hence  the  fact  that  the  boxes  are  full  of  greys, 
and  that  only  a  single  bay  catches  the  eye  as  you  go  round.  A 
very  singular-looking  horse  he  is  too,  some  seventeen  hands  high, 
with  shoulders  so  far  thrown  back  that  the  saddle  space  seems, 
if  possible,  too  small ;  once,  however,  you  see  him  move,  the 
perfection  of  the  machinery  is  apparent,  and  a  gallop  on  him  is 
like  rushing  through  the  air  in  one  of  Howard's  easy  chairs.  Snow 
Queen  is  conspicuous  for  her  length,  everywhere  combined  with 
power;  her  fired  hocks  do  not  impair  her  looks  one  bit.  Star 
Shower  is  stronger  and  compacter,  perhaps,  and  more  suited  for 
choice  to  a  high-banked  country.  Lazy  Larry  saw  service  in  the 
south  among  stone-faced  banks,  which  left  their  marks  on  him ;  he 
is  a  grand  weight-carrier.  One  or  two  greys  that  Mr.  Preston 
drafted  recently  are  very  high-class  horses ;  one  of  them,  Fairy 
Queen,  has  raced  very  fairly,  and  will  probably  do  so  again.  The 
stables,  forming  the  left  wing  of  the  house,  with  their  Titanic  stone 
pillars  and  high  vaulted  roof,  look  as  if  they  had  been  built  by 
one  of  the  Moguls  for  his  white  elephants,  so  solid  are  they  and 
capacious. 

Defective  earth-stopping  spoilt  promising  sport  in  Louth.     On 


3  66  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

the  6th  they  met  at  Collon,  but  the  fox  of  the  place  got  too  good 
a  start  for  the  scent  which  prevailed.  Skedog  gave  them  a  very 
good  eighteen  minutes  by  Shanliss  and  Drakistown  to  Curracon, 
where  the  fox  went  into  a  burrow.  Digging  produced  a  brace — 
a  dog  and  vixen,  and  a  few  precious  moments  were  lost  in  putting 
the  pack  on  to  the  former,  who  occupied  them  till  nightfall.  From 
Townley  Hall  they  had  a  sharp  twenty-two  minutes  to  Rossine 
on  the  Qth ;  a  Louth  fox  was  killed  at  once.  Mellifont  furnished 
a  brace.  They  went  away  well  with  one  over  Louth  Hill  into 
Townley  Hall  and  through  the  park,  when  he,  too,  got  into  a 
burrow.  The  Curraghmore  hounds  seem  to  have  had  another  fine 
gallop  from  Rathgormack  on  the  i3th,  and  a  shorter  one  from 
Ballyneil  in  the  afternoon. 

The  Kildare  hounds,  after  a  week  of  very  poor  sport,  had  a 
capital  run  from  Gingerstown  Gorse  on  Tuesday,  to  which  I  must 
refer  in  my  next. 

The  Westmeath  hounds,  after  a  moderate  morning,  had  a  most 
animating  and  exciting  gallop  from  Galston  Park  on  Monday,  the 
i  Qth,  particulars  of  which  I  must  send  you  in  my  next. 

The  Ward  Union  hounds  had  a  capital  second  run  on  Patrick's 
evening  from  Ashbourne  to  the  Naul,  and  a  very  pleasant  circular 
gallop  on  Monday.  Space  prevents  my  enlarging  on  any  of  them 
here. 


HI  BERN  I  A   V EN  ATI C A.  367 


XXIV. 

' '  Ah,  how  shall  I  in  song  declare, 
The  riders  who  were  foremost  there  ? 
A  fit  excuse  how  shall  I  find 
For  every  rider  left  behind  ?  " 


Trim  and  Trimlestown — Mullingar  meet — Bellavilla — Bill  Ryan — The 
dancing  6th. 

"  THE  third  day  comes  a  frost,  a  killing  frost,"  says  England's 
great  Cardinal  through  the  mouth  of  Shakespeare,  and  the  words 
are  apposite  to  our  present  situation  here  !  We  have  had  a  few 
light,  beautiful  days,  too  crisp  and  gaudy  perhaps  for  hounds. 
The  country  has  dried  up  with  a  rapidity  perfectly  marvellous,  to 
the  great  joy  of  husbandmen.  The.  brimming  rivers  have  shrunk 
back  to  their  old  bounds.  Dry  leathers  and  tops  immaculate 
have  rejoiced  the  hearts  of  valets;  broader  horizons  have  ex- 
panded to  our  view.  The  grass  lands  have  cast  off  their  slough 
of  winter  and  autumn,  and  glittered  once  more  in  emerald  hues. 
It  almost  seemed  like  a  new  heaven  and  a  new  earth  inchoate, 
warm  with  the  breath  of  Favonius,  and  vocal  with  the  spring 
carolling  of  myriads  of  birds ;  when  a  change — a  portentous 
change — came  over  the  face  of  nature.  On  Thursday  late 
travellers  were  buffeted  sorely  by  pitiless  hailstorms.  Then  came 
a  sharp  frost,  and  at  7  a.m.  on  Friday  snow  was  falling  fast.  The 
Meath  hounds  were  proclaimed  in  Mr.  Kelly's  Hunting  Calendar 
as  due  at  Trim  station  on  Friday,  the  i6th  inst.  Road  or  rail, 


368  HIBERNIA   YEN  ATI  C A. 

which  will  you  choose?  Both  are  almost  equally  convenient. 
For  my  own  part  I  chose  the  paths  of  Macadam  and  a  good  hack ; 
but  then  I  was  starting  some  nine  or  ten  miles  (Irish)  on  the  Trim 
side  of  Dublin.  The  denizens  and  occupants  of  the  gay  capital 
naturally  chose  the  latter,  and  a  very  large  convoy  set  out  from 
the  Broadstone  terminus  about  9  a.m.,  setting  down  its  load  at 
Trim  a  little  past  n  o'clock;  and,  as  the  distance  is  just  about 
twenty-five  miles,  the  shareholders  of  the  line  have  no  right, 
I  think,  to  complain  that  their  engineers  take  pattern  by  Jehu, 
and  drive  furiously  or  at  a  reckless  pace.  By  the  time  I  had 
hacked  nearly  half  the  distance,  the  snow  ceased  on  the  plains ; 
but  in  front  the  Cavan  hills  were  well  powdered,  while  behind  the 
eastern  barrier  of  mountains  gleamed  one  white  mass  of  ap- 
parently newly  fallen  snow.  Presently  the  sun  shines  forth  in 
strength,  and  "  Hark,  hark  !  the  lark  at  Heaven's  gate  sings." 
Bleating  lambs,  flushes  of  primroses,  blossoming  gorses,  caucuses 
of  crows,  an  odd  sower  going  forth  to  sow  —  these  and  a 
thousand  other  things  tend  to  remind  us  that  Spring  is  upon  us  ; 
that  the  pastime  of  princes  will  soon  be  suspended  by  natural 
causes.  Be  carpe  diem  our  motto  now,  or  we  shall  regret,  with 
the  unavailing  regret  of  vacillators,  our  lost  opportunities.  We 
are  now  in  Trim,  under  the  shadow  of  its  feudal  fortresses,  yet 
reminded  by  an  air  of  pervasive  comfort  and  bien-ttre  that  the 
Trimmers  (I  don't  know  what  other  title  to  give  them)  are  not 
content  to  live  in  a  storied  past,  but  have  due  regard  for  present 
comfort  and  prosperity.  The  aspect  of  one  or  two  of  the  peopled 
streets  shows  us  that  a  great  many  are  like-minded  with  ourselves 
as  to  seizing  every  hunting  opportunity  that  presents  itself.  The 
flash  of  purple  lights  up  the  vistas,  and  beauty  equitant  and 
beauty  charioteering  are  gladdening  the  ancient  city.  Whom 
have  we  here  ?  Heading  the  squadron  of  arrivals  from  the  station 
comes  his  Royal  Highness  the  Duke  of  Connaught,  mounted  on 
a  clever-looking  bay  horse,  who,  I  believe,  won  first-class  honours 
in  the  southern  show-yard  at  Cork.  His  equerry,  Captain  Maurice 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  369 

Fitzgerald,  rides  the  "  Kearsley  roan,"  who  has  proved  himself  at 
home   in   all   parts   of    Ireland.      Next   comes   the   Marquis   of 
Ormonde  from  Kilkenny,  though,  I  fancy,  not  further  than  from 
Dublin  this  morning ;  he  is  riding  a  very  symmetrical  grey  belong- 
ing to   H.R.H.,  who  distinguished  himself  last  year  by  winning 
the  Carlow  Red-coat  race  for  his  then  owner,  Sir  Clement  Wolseley, 
in   hollow  style.     He  does  not  belie  his  ancestry,  paternal  or 
maternal ;   the  latter  Arabian,  the  former  derived  through  Lord 
of  the  Isles.     Here  is  Lord  Randolph  Churchill ;   while  Lady 
Rosamond  Churchill  is  again  mounted  on  Colonel  Eraser's  chest- 
nut winner,  Famous,  and  another  lady  steers  his  grey  cup  winner. 
Here  is  Colonel  Eraser's  yellow  brake  and  most  serviceable  team, 
with  the  well-known  roan  wheelers,  well  handled  among  those  tor- 
tuous streets  by  Capt.  Chaine,  late  of  the  loth  Hussars.    Of  course 
it  is  full ;    so  is  Lord  Howth's  carriage,  which  comes  in  view  now. 
Mrs.  Dunville's  pair  of  brown  horses  represent  perpetual  motion, 
for  they  seem  to  follow  the  hounds  everywhere,  and  to  thrive  on 
excitement.      Lord   Clanmorris  and  his   sister,   the   Hon.    Miss 
Bingham,  are  riding  two  charming   chestnuts.     Lord   Rossmore 
is  on  one  of  the  same  colour,  of  rare  power  and  type.     Captain 
Colthurst  follows  colour  with  a  smart  mare  that  has  paid  her  way, 
racing  very  handsomely.     Mr.   Hone   rides   a  brown  mare  that 
I  hear   the  foreigners  covet  greatly,  and  I   admire   their  good 
judgment     Captain  Beecher  rides  a  handsome  son  of  William  the 
Conqueror's.     Captain  O'Neal  is  riding  Jonah,  one  of  the  neatest 
sons  of  Outcast  to  be  seen,  a  large  winner  between  flags,  and  a 
very  perfect  light-weight  hunter.     Mrs.  Hanley  rides  a  very  fine 
bay  horse.     The   Messrs.    Carew   (three)   are   always   admirably 
mounted,  and  so  is  Mr.  Brown,  of  Elm  Grove,  and  Mr.  Rose, 
from  Limerick.     Captain  Chaine  rides  Regalia,  a  very  handsome 
chestnut  from  Colonel  Eraser's  stable.     I  have  mentioned  a  few 
celebrities  among  horses  and  their  riders  to  give  an  idea  of  the 
character  of  the  meet,  which,  though  a  large  one,  was  not  by  any 
means  a  monster  one,  or  over  populous.     Meath  mustered  strong 

2  B 


370  HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A, 

there;  so  did  the  Dublin  Garrison,  represented  by  the  3rd 
Dragoon  Guards,  the  Inniskillings,  and  the  Rifle  Brigade;  while 
Galway,  Kilkenny,  Limerick,  Westmeath,  Kildare,  and  I  know 
not  how  many  more  counties  took  part  in  the  fray.  The  hands 
of  the  town  clock  were  nearing  their  junction  at  noon  when  we 
set  forth,  bound  for  Moneymore  Gorse,  to  which  I  have  before 
introduced  your  readers ;  full  then — it  was  empty  now.  So, 
passing  through  a  gentleman's  grounds  (Riverstown  by  name,  on 
the  slope  down  to  the  Boyne  Water),  we  come  to  New  Haggard 
Gorse,  a  small,  thick  parallelogram,  where  a  fox  has  harboured 
for  two  seasons,  and  has  baffled  the  pack  hitherto,  never  having 
given  the  semblance  of  a  run.  To-day  was  his  first  and  last — but 
I  anticipate  events.  Carefully  drawn  by  Goodall,  and  with  much 
energy,  the  fox  breaks  away ;  but  a  fisherman  is  a  lion  in  his  path, 
so  he  retraces  his  steps,  and  it  looks  as  if  New  Haggard  Gorse 
was  doomed  to  be  non-productive  of  sport.  However,  in  five 
minutes  he  is  tallied  away  in  a  line  parallel  to  the  banks  of  the 
river,  towards  Mr.  Odlam's  large  mills.  Scent  seems  much  livelier 
than  might  have  been  expected,  and  our  fox  has  -to  run  a  couple 
of  circles  pretty  sharp  before  he  crosses  the  Boyne,  which  is  deep 
here,  I  understand,  and  unfordable.  The  nearest  bridge  is  at 
Trim,  a  mile  or  two  distant ;  but  there  is  no  help  for  it,  so  we 
trot  round  very  quickly.  When  the  pack,  however,  are  laid  on 
the  fox's  line,  they  can  make  nothing  of  it — barely  owning  it  at 
all.  A  knowledge  of  the  country  makes  it  pretty  clear  that  he 
has  gone  on  to  Trimlestown  Gorse,  and  thither  we  go  too,  but  by  a 
rather  roundabout  pathway.  The  hounds  have  no  sooner  touched 
this  fine  covert  than  they  are  racing  away.  The  tail  men  were 
a  long  way  in  their  rear,  probably  knowing  nothing  of  the  in- 
stantaneous find  and  as  rapid  departure.  A  dwell  for  a  minute 
or  two  at  a  big  double  fence  a  few  fields  from  the  gorse,  helps 
them  ever  so  little.  Over  the  double  it  is,  and  then  away  at  best 
pace  across  a  road.  Who-whoop  !  who-whoop  !  they  have  rolled 
him  over  by  a  telegraph  post— I  know  not  on  what  townland,  nor 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  371 

does  it  signify ;  for  Trim  is  very  near,  and  there  is  the  Trim  and 
Athboy  branch  line  of  railway  in  front  to  mark  the  topography. 
A  very  sharp  burst  over  a  charming  line ;  it  only  wanted  distance 
to  lend  it  enchantment.  A  second  visit,  and  Trimlestown  pro- 
duced a  second  fox,  who  broke  in  an  opposite  direction,  as  if  for 
Clifton  Lodge;  but  he  was  lost  in  a  few  fields,  which  a  heavy 
snowstorm  of  upwards  of  an  hour's  duration  may  account  for. 
"Through  the  hush'd  air  the  whitening  shower  descends." 

Patrick's  Day  in  the  morning  generally  becomes  St.  Silenus's 
Night,  just  as  the  ballad  we  recollect  in  "  Don  Juan  "  tells  us  that 
"  Amundeville  may  be  lord  by  day,  but  the  friar  is  lord  at  night." 
However,  one  very  pleasant  phase  of  the  celebration  of  Ireland's 
and  more  especially  Heath's  patron  saint  was  a  meet  of  the  Ward 
Union  hounds  at  "the  Ward."  I  expected  a  very  plethoric 
affair,  but  was  agreeably  surprised  by  finding  only  a  manageable 
field  gathered  together,  the  Kildare  hounds  at  Rathcoole  having 
naturally  depleted  a  good  deal  of  the  exuberant  numbers  whom 
the  calendar  devotes  to  idleness  and  enjoyment  this  day. 

The  proceedings  began  by  trotting  a  mile  or  two  in  the 
Ashbourne  direction,  then  turning  into  a  farm  to  the  left  hand, 
where  the  enlargement  had  taken  place.  Our  deer's  strong  point 
was  speed,  not  directness.  After  a  short  »ng  she  set  her  face  for 
Fleenstown  ;  then  turned  round,  leaving  Kilrue  to  the  right  hand, 
jumped  the  Dardistown  Brook,  brushed  through  some  wooded 
knolls— part  of  Kilbride  lands,  I  believe — crossed  a  by-road,  and 
ran  up  over  a  nice  bit  of  flat  grass  to  Hollywood  Rath,  soon  to 
be  captured  at  Dunmickney.  The  pace,  after  the  preliminary 
ring,  was  very  good  indeed.  A  second  red  deer  was  presently 
enlarged  by  the  kennels  at  Ashbourne,  and  took  us  at  fair  pace 
nearly  to  Ballymadun  village,  crossed  the  road  leading  to  the 
Naul,  and  touched  on  Garristown  Hill ;  then,  bearing  to  the 
right,  he  made  his  point  as  straight  as  a  good  fox  by  Herberts- 
town  to  Westown,  where  he  committed,  I  hear,  a  quasi  felo  de  se 


372  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

by  entangling  his  tines  in  a  mill  wheel,  and  there  awaited  capture 
and  the  cart.  Having  ridden  the  first  part  of  the  run,  let  me 
speak  of  that  section  with  a  grateful  memory.  I  hear  the  second 
part  was  even  more  brilliant ;  by  all  accounts,  Lord  Rossmore  saw 
it  as  well  as  anybody  out 

On  Monday  the  Westmeath  executive  invited  all  and  singular 
to  meet  the  county  pack  at  the  barracks  of  Mullingar,  the  nearest 
approach  to  a  lawn  meet  in  the  vicinity  of  this  midland  capital. 
Seeing  that  no  Marquis  of  Mullingar  inhabits  a  feudal  keep  over- 
looking the  good  town  in  true  baronial  fashion,  and  that  the  lord 
of  the  soil,  Lord  Greville,  lives  at  a  distance  of  several  miles, 
Mullingar  accommodates  itself  wonderfully  to  the  fitness  of  things 
venatic.  Like  Rome  in  this  respect,  if  in  no  other,  it  is  ap- 
proached by  many  roads — paths  of  iron  and  paths  of  Macadam. 
Passengers  from  the  west,  from  Gal  way,  Longford,  Athlone, 
Moate,  the  King's  County,  from  Cavan,  Sligo,  Leitrim,  Ros- 
common,  from  Dublin,  Meath,  the  Queen's  County,  and  Kildare, 
find  themselves  injected  more  or  less  simultaneously,  at  or  about 
1 1  o'clock  a.m.  on  the  platform  of  the  busy  station,  and  from  the 
station  to  the  barracks  is  but  a  five  minutes'  drive  in  one  of  the 
many  cars  ready  to  compete  tumultuously  for  your  patronage. 
I  do  not  speak  from,  authority,  but  I  am  inclined  to  think  that 
if  the  slowly  revolving  wheels  of  the  Midland  carriages  were 
tardier  and  more  stately  in  their  revolutions  on  one  of  these 
hunting  festivities  at  Mullingar,  a  latitude  of  fifteen  or  twenty 
minutes  would  be  accorded  to  the  belated,  seeing  that  time  would 
not  hang  very  heavily  in  a  well-found  mess-room,  such  as  that  of 
the  ist  Royals,  now  quartered  at  Mullingar,  who  have  entered 
well  to  Westmeath  and  its  many-sided  sports,  and  welcome  the 
habitues  and  casual  sportsmen  with  true  soldierly  heartiness.  On 
the  present  occasion  I  am  bound  to  speak  with  respect  of  the 
exemplary  punctuality  of  the  Midland  line  ;  it  enabled  me  to  take 
a  short  drive  into  the  good  old  town,  which,  though  by  no  means 
beautiful  or  picturesque  in  situation  or  architecture,  yet  wears  an 


HIBERNIA   YEN  ATI  C A.  373 

air  of  solid  bicn-ttre  and  wealth  that  many  more  pretentious  cities 
might  envy.  Its  banks  tell  of  wealth  and  commercial  enterprise  ; 
its  handsome  ecclesiastical  buildings  tell  of  the  due  appropriation 
of  the  harvest  of  commerce  and  agriculture ;  its  shops  are 
wonderfully  good.  Gordon's  Ulsters  (ought  they  not  to  be 
Leinsters  ?)  are,  I  believe,  the  great  original  of  that  development 
of  sartorial  comfort;  Watson's  saddles  are  proverbial  through 
Ireland ;  Mrs.  Carroll's  hotel,  the  Greville  Arms,  commends  itself 
hugely  to  commercial  men,  who  are  no  mean  judges  of  creature 
comforts,  and  to  many  scores  of  hunting  and  fishing  men  from  all 
parts  of  the  world,  who  not  unfrequently  make  it  their  base  of 
operations  while  in  Ireland.  Mullingar,  I  fancy,  looked  at  its 
very  best  this  forenoon.  A  morning  severely  frosty  and  over- 
spread with  rime  had  brightened  into  a  very  glorious  day,  with  a 
sun  positively  warm — somebody  said  scorching ;  the  air  was  clear 
as  in  Western  America ;  and  in  the  translucent  atmosphere  every 
bit  of  the  surrounding  landscape  was  mapped  out  before  you  with 
the  most  vivid  distinctness,  as  if  seen  through  a  magnifying  lens. 

Passing  through  the  Fair  Green,  so  well  known  to  amateurs  of 
high-class  horses,  we  come  to  the  barracks,  which  are  not  a  whit 
less  ugly  or  comfortless  of  aspect  than  most  buildings  of  the  sort 
in  Ireland,  contrasting  so  unfavourably  as  they  do  with  the  more 
modern  and  ambitious-looking  poor-houses.  There  are  about  one 
hundred  horsemen  gathered  together,  and  some  twenty  cars  and 
carriages.  Conspicuous  among  the  latter  is  the  Ballinagall  landau 
and  Colonel  Cooper's  waggonette,  on  the  box  seat  of  which  I 
recognize  that  good  sportsman  so  well  known  to  his  friends  on 
both  sides  of  the  Channel  as  Joe  Radcliffe,  the  recent  owner  of 
Salvanos  and  other  good  horses.  Mr.  Montague  Chapman,  the 
M.F.H.,  is  not  out  to-day,  owing  to  a  death  in  His  family;  so 
Mr.  R.  Malone  represents  him — the  Archon  of  the  day,  and  a 
most  popular  one ;  needless  to  say,  he  is  well  mounted,  for  his 
horses  are  celebrities,  as  they  ought  to  be  to  fulfil  his  require- 
ments. The  Hon.  Mrs.  Malone  is  riding  a  very  perfect  huntress, 


374  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

The  Creole — so  called,  I  suppose,  because  she  is  a  "  coloured 
lady,''  the  brown  and  black  and  mud  stains  on  her  coat  giving  her 
a  rather  mottled  appearance  at  this  time  of  the  year.  A  rare 
combination  of  blood,  substance,  and  activity,  I  have  rarely  seen 
a  more  perfect  lady's  huntress  than  The  Creole  proves  herself  in 
Mrs.  Malone's  hands.  No  meet  near  Mullingar  would  be  com- 
plete without  the  portly  presence  of  its  hospitable  and  witty 
banker,  Mr.  W.  Kelly,  the  life,  soul,  and  promoter  of  all  things 
tending  to  sport  and  good  fellowship ;  and  here  is  Mr.  Kelly,  with 
undiminished  shadow  and  substance,  riding  a  very  fine  brown 
horse,  who  has  furnished  into  a  pattern  weight-carrier  since  last 
year.  Captain  Fosberry  is  on  a  grand-stamped  son  of  Hospodar ; 
Captain  Grant  and  Mr.  O'Reilly  are  very  well  mounted.  Half-a- 
dozen  of  the  Royals  come  out,  among  them  Mr.  Stephen  Moore, 
well  known  in  his  own  county  of  Kildare.  There  are  four  or  five 
officers  of  the  igth  Hussars  from  Longford  and  Athlone,  among 
whom  one  recognized  Messrs.  Flood,  Kenyon  Stow,  O'Connor 
Henchy,  and  French.  Mr.  Stow's  chestnut,  one  of  Baron  Roths- 
child's stud,  is  a  very  high-class  hunter,  and  his  fencing  struck  me 
as  very  neat  and  effective.  Time  and  space  forbid  my  glancing 
further  at  the  men  and  horses  before  us,  so  I  will  pass  on  to  my 
first  impression  of  the  hounds  and  staff.  For  the  condition  and 
looks  of  the  former,  Matthews  deserves  a  tribute  of  high  praise. 
I  had  not  seen  them  for  some  months — nay,  not  since  last  year — 
and  the  improvement  in  levelness  and  looks  struck  me  at  once ; 
but  work  is  their  forte,  and  I  have  seen  nothing  this  year  more 
effective  and  capable  than  this  pack.  Servants'  horses  are  the 
difficulty,  and,  to  say  the  least,  the  weak  point  of  most  Irish 
hunting  establishments.  It  appears  to  me  the  strong  point  of  the 
Westmeath  system.  Matthews,  the  huntsman,  was  riding  a  bay 
mare  thoroughly  up  to  and  over  his  weight,  while  her  performance 
was  very  good.  The  same  tale  may  be  told  of  the  mounts  of  the 
two  whips,  Mason  and  Toope.  They  were  fresh,  fit  hunters,  a 
bay  and  a  chestnut,  up  to  their  respective  riders'  weights  (one 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  375 

rather  over),  and  not  requiring  to  learn  their  lessons  painfully  in 
the  hunting  field.  Among  the  field  was  Mr.  R.  Rennell — the  late 
master  of  the  pack — on  a  grey  cob. 

We  are  in  motion  at  last — rather  late,  too,  for  it  is  wearing  on 
for  noon  when  we  leave  Mullingar  behind  us,  with  Lough  Ennel 
on  our  left  hand  and  a  thick  bit  of  gorse  at  its  edge — Kilpatrick 
our  destination.  On  the  last  occasion  of  my  visiting  this  neigh- 
bourhood the  white  horses  were  leaping  over  the  perturbed  surface 
of  this  inland  sea ;  to-day  it  was  a  mirror.  Then  it  held  a  fox  ; 
to-day  it  was  blank.  Mr.  Lyon's  park  of  Ladestown  is  the  first  of 
the  residences  which  fringe  the  western  shores  of  Lough  Ennel. 
We  drew  the  Lake  Woods  in  vain,  and  were,  I  fancy,  about  to  go 
away,  when  there  was  a  tally,  and  every  one  commences  galloping 
in  a  venire-ci-tcrre  fashion.  A  few  follow  the  flying  pack  through 
the  park.  The  majority  elect  a  road  parallel  to  them,  and  their 
choice  was  a  wise  one,  for  the  fielders  get  pounded  directly,  and 
Mr.  Brabazon  gives  his  followers  a  lead  over  a  nasty  drop  fence 
into  the  road  we  are  devouring  so  impetuously.  Turning  through 
a  gate,  we  here  pass  the  Belmont  and  Keolton  grounds,  and 
emerge  into  the  country,  to  meet  our  first  real  obstacle  in  a  brook, 
not  very  wide,  not  very  deep,  not  very  formidable  in  any  way, 
save  that  it  had  rather  bad  spots  of  landing  and  taking  off,  and 
saddles  were  emptied  here  rather  alarmingly  fast 

"  Good  Lord  !  to  see  the  riders  now 

Thrown  off  with  sudden  whirl  ! 
A  score  within  the  purling  brook, 
Enjoying  early  purl !  " 

One  of  the  whips'  horses  landed  badly,  and  his  rider  is  on  his 
back.  An  ecclesiastic  charges  it  directly  afterwards,  on  a  capital 
huntress  of  an  impetuous  turn,  and  misses  his  nether  limbs  by  the 
narrowest  of  margins.  After  this,  for  about  a  mile  or  rather  more, 
our  track  is  over  flat  grass  land,  with  fair  banks  and  ditches,  till 
we  enter  Dysart,  seemingly  an  old,  deserted  park,  with  some  good 
timber  within  its  enceinte.  The  hounds  are  hunting  steadily,  and 


376  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 

at  very  fair  pace,  along  a  fence  or  hedgerow  parallel  to  a  road 
for,  I  should  think,  a  quarter  of  a  mile,  when  up  jumps  a  splendid 
dog-fox  before  them — our  quarry — as  fresh  as  if  he  had  not  gone 
some  two  or  three  miles  already  at  great  pace.  For  a  few  minutes 
now  it  is  a  view  through  the  park,  till  the  fox  disappears  behind  a 
hedge,  and  we  lose  sight  of  him.  Then  follows  a  mile  along  the 
lake  shore  to  a  plantation,  where  a  dog  of  low  degree  inter- 
venes, and  our  fox  escapes  through  Ladestown  to  some  district 
unknown.  Making  our  way  next  over  a  large  double,  which 
proved  that  many  of  the  horses  out  were  well-educated  hunters, 
we  pass  by  Lynbury,  and  arrive  presently  at  the  handsome  park  of 
Gaybrook,  Mr.  Smyth's  residence.  Here  the  consensus  of  all 
hunting  men  says  a  find  is  a  certainty.  They  judge  by  past 
experience,  but  to-day  they  are  wrong,  as  we  learn  after  twenty 
minutes'  careful  exploration.  Galston  and  Rochfort  offer  rival 
attractions,  but  the  show  of  hands  is  in  favour  of  the  former, 
Lord  Kilmaine's  park,  and  thither  we  trot  on,  basking  and  coffee- 
housing  as  we  go  in  the  pleasant  sunshine.  Our  leaders  have 
gone  on  very  sharply.  We,  the  majority,  have  taken  matters  too 
leisurely ;  for  presently,  as  I  am  getting  to  the  point  of  a  friend's 
bon  mot  or  anecdote,  a  stampede  begins.  They  have  found ;  they 
are  off;  so  we  gallop  on  in  gloomy  despair  for  half  a  mile  or  so, 
as  the  pioneers  and  the  pack  have  just  jumped  into  a  road,  pause 
there  for  a  second  or  two,  and  resume  their  flight.  A  short  cut  of 
a  field  or  two  now  puts  us  on  terms  with  the  foremost  and  best. 
Before  us  is  a  red  peat  moss  of  many  acres ;  beyond  it  Green 
Hills,  Captain  Dames'  sporting  residence  and  kennels.  Our  fox 
was  probably  headed  here,  for,  after  a  loop,  he  leads  us  back  into 
the  road,  the  avenue  to  which  is  over  a  low  gate  or  a  steep  bank. 
Here  we  come  near  a  village,  which  somebody  tells  me  is  Mil- 
town.  A  double,  which  looks  worse  than  it  really  is,  delays  us  a 
moment  or  two,  as  it  has  one  better  spot  in  its  extent  than  others, 
which  all  seem  to  affect.  Then,  for  two  miles  or  so,  with  the 
pack  a  hundred  yards  or  more  in  front,  we  have  a  succession  of 


THE     HONOURABLE    M*s     MALONE 


HIBERXIA   VENA  TIC  A.  377 

charming  singles,  of  fair  hunting  size,  that  you  can  race  at.  Pre- 
sently we  leave  Enniscoffey  church  to  the  right  hand,  and  gallop 
over  the  broad  grass  fields  of  Claremont  and  Lemonstown.  Here 
the  Hon.  Mrs.  Malone  and  The  Creole  were  going  in  beautiful 
form  till,  I  think,  they  turned  too  much  to  the  left,  thinking  the 
fox  had  bent  towards  Galston  again.  In  half  a  mile,  as  horses  are 
beginning  to  feel  the  severity  of  the  pace,  we  are  confronted  by 
a  huge  rampart — a  boundary  fence,  known,  I  hear,  as  Tuite's 
Double.  It  is  very  high,  very  safe,  and  for  a  fresh  horse  not  too 
formidable.  With  a  tired  hunter  it  is  too  much  to  ask — take  your 
twelve  or  fifteen  stone  off  his  back,  and  he  might  jump  it  Some 
got  over  at  once ;  some  had  to  wait  and  collect  their  horses ;  a 
few  men  rode  it  gallantly — amongst  others  Mr.  Brabazon  and,  I 
believe,  Mr.  Bond ;  some  found  a  way  round  it.  At  any  rate,  in 
another  half-mile  or  so,  we  are  standing  in  various  attitudes,  lead- 
ing horses  about,  at  the  corner  of  the  Gaybrook  Wood,  into  which 
our  fox  has  plunged.  All  agree  that  it  has  been  a  splendid 
unchecked  gallop  over  a  beautiful  line.  Some  say  the  last  run, 
from  Galston  or  Gaybrook,  I  forget  which — the  run  of  the 
season — was  better.  All  concur,  however,  in  giving  high  praise  to 
our  chase  of  to-day. 

Is  it  over  yet  ?  Who  knows  ?  Our  hunters  have  now  caught 
their  wind.  Let  us  see  by  trotting  on  to  either  corner  of  the  thick 
square  of  woodland.  They  (the  hounds)  are  "  hunting  strong," 
says  a  rustic ;  adding  something  painfully  grating  about  their  being 
at  or  near  Mullingar  by  now.  A  small  party  of  us,  eight  or  nine, 
now  gallop  on  over  some  rather  holding  fields,  jump  a  few  fences, 
drop  into  a  road,  gallop  up  a  small  hill,  and  there  are  the  hounds, 
not  a  field  off,  turning  towards  us.  I  believe  we  are  passing 
through  Catherinestown.  Mullingar  is  in  front;  beyond  it  the 
wooded  knolls  of  Knockdrin  Park.  For  a  mile  or  so  we  hold  on 
at  a  steady  pace,  when  there  is  a  pause  for  a  second  or  two,  till 
Roadster,  who  strains  back,  I  believe,  to  the  Fitzhardmg  Gains- 
borough, and  is  a  regular  oracle,  puts  his  brethren  to  rights.  We 


378  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

pass  Clonmoyle,  lately  the  residence  of  that  good  sportsman, 
Mr.  Joly,  long  the  hon.  secretary  to  the  hunt — now,  alas  !  no  more. 
Who-whoop  !  who-whoop  !  An  unguarded  sewer,  at  the  foot  of  a 
large  double,  has  robbed  our  pack  of  their  prey. 

I  asked  several  men  about  the  time  of  this  fine  chase.  No  one 
seemed  positive  to  a  few  minutes,  the  find  was  so  quick,  the 
departure  so  sudden  and  instantaneous.  I  believe  it  was  under 
an  hour ;  and  the  distance  covered  was,  I  should  guess,  about 
eight  miles.  Who,  after  to-day's  experience,  will  lay  down  any 
laws  about  scent?  Light,  gaudy,  sunny,  windless;  one  would 
have  said  it  must  be  a  bad  day.  I  have  rarely  seen  a  much 
better ;  and  hounds,  for  the  most  part,  carried  a  fine  head. 

Tuesday  was  a  replica,  on  even  a  grander  and  more  gorgeous 
scale,  of  Monday.  The  frost  (white)  was  harder  and  more  search- 
ing— the  sun  more  potent  and  pervasive.  These  were  the  atmo- 
spheric conditions  which  gave  unusual  brilliancy  to  a  Kildare  meet 
at  Sallins  on  Tuesday,  the  2Oth  inst. 

I  am  sure  that,  spite  of  Turks  and  Egyptians,  foreign  loans 
and  American  beef,  Irishmen  have  ordered  just  as  many  scarlet 
coats  as  usual  this  year ;  but  somehow  they  never  appear  during 
the  rainy  cycle.  To-day  a  bed  of  peonies,  an  army  of  emperor 
butterflies,  was  a  joke  to  the  splendid  array  at  modest  Sallins,  with 
its  dreary  canal  and  grimy  buildings.  I  should  think  half  the  Curragh 
and  Newbridge  Garrisons  were  on  horseback  there — men  of  the 
4th  Foot,  7th  Fusiliers,  R.H.A.,  Engineers, 7th  and  4th  Dragoon 
Guards — while  Dublin  contributed  an  odd  Inniskillinger  and  Rifle- 
man of  the  Brigade.  Among  the  visitors  were  Captain  and  Lady 
Maria  Fitzclarence,  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Scott,  Mrs.  Bagot,  the  Mar- 
chioness of  Drogheda,  Mrs.  Wakefield,  Mrs.  Moore,  Captain  and 
Mrs.  Sheppard,  Mr.  Adair,  Mr.  Skeffington  Smyth,  Sir  James  Hig- 
ginson  and  the  Misses  Higginson,  Mr.  Webber,  and  Mr.  Power. 

Mr.  Mansfield  led  us  off  at  once  to  Bellavilla  Gorse,  where  the 
find  was  very  quick,  and  the  departure  equally  so.  A  sharp  gallop 
through  Longtown  ended  in  a  loss  of  our  fox,  without  any  prospect 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  379 

of  regaining  the  clue.  We  then  returned  to  Bella  villa,  and  found 
a  second  fox  directly,  who  turned  towards  Landenstown  and  the 
canal.  We  followed  over  the  country  till  arrested  by  wire  couchant 
but  not  concealed,  over  which  some  lead  their  horses,  some 
rode.  Those  who  sought  and  found  another  way  were  arrested  by 
a  gate,  wired  or  tied  to  its  post  as  usual.  While  we  were  think- 
ing of  how  it  should  be  opened,  a  one-armed  sportsman — Mr.  or 
Captain  Burke,  I  believe — rode  at  it  with  great  intrepidity,  and 
smashed  it  for  us.  This  run  ended  at  about  a  mile  "  to  ground," 
I  think.  Landenstown  gave  us  a  fox,  who  also  got  to  ground 
directly.  The  next  move  was  across  country  to  a  wild  bit  of  unin- 
closed  gorse — Gingerstown  by  name — to  which  I  have  frequently 
introduced  your  readers,  seeing  that  it  has  been  the  point  of 
departure  of  more  than  one  sharp  run.  I  must  pass  by  some  very 
amusing  episodes  en  route — horses  much  preferring  jumping  into 
brooks  to  flying  them,  and  sundry  other  minor  mishaps.  We  are 
now  overlooking  the  drawing  of  Gingerstown  furze  brake,  and  the 
hounds  feathering  gaily,  from  a  railway  bridge  and  other  coigns  of 
vantage.  There  he  goes  !  a  splendid  dog  fox ;  but  how  can  he 
break  through  this  cordon?  How  he  did  effect  a  passage  is  to  me 
a  mystery ;  but  presently  we  are  galloping  away  over  pasture  fields, 
up  a  lane,  till  we  find  ourselves  in  Yeomanstown  demesne,  the 
field  broken  up  into  skirmishing  parties,  extending  over  a  very 
wide  area.  Two  columns,  however,  show  considerable  coherence : 
one  keeps  along  a  road,  the  other  tempts  fields  and  fences,  and 
both  soon  unite.  It  were  uninteresting  to  jot  down  the  various 
townlands  we  ran  over.  The  bearings  which  gives  an  idea  of  the 
situation  are  the  Liffey  behind  us,  the  Hill  of  Allen  very  con- 
spicuous, though  at  some  distance  to  our  left.  A  mile  or  two  is 
very  heavy,  swampy  going ;  then  we  emerge  on  to  high  light-going 
grass  land,  which  rises  abruptly  from  a  bit  of  red  bog  between  us 
and  Allen  Hill.  Then  we  bear  slightly  to  the  right,  jump  a 
number  of  nice  wide  flying  fences,  and  find  ourselves  in  a  sort  of 
wood,  where  sundry  hats  strew  the  ground,  knocked  of  by  the 


380  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

boughs.  A  ruined  house  of  imposing  proportions  is  on  the  left 
hand — Donore;  and  if  our  vulp  meant  holding  on  to  Landenstown 
and  Bellavilla,  he  was  probably  baulked  at  the  road,  for  he  turned 
sharp  to  the  right,  brushed  by  Caragh  Hill,  and  won  his  way  to 
Mr.  O' Kelly's  woods,  where,  I  believe,  he  got  to  ground.  Osbers- 
town  Corse  was  the  next  venture.  It  held  as  usual,  and  the  path 
of  the  fox  was  towards  Oldtown,  Naas,  vid  the  canal ;  then  in  a 
line  parallel  to  the  Sallins  road,  and  back  towards  the  covert  he 
came  from;  a  fine  day's  sport,  and  most  unexpected  on  such  a  day 
of  glare  and  glitter.  I  fancy  I  am  somewhat  in  arrear  in  my 
notices  of  Kildare  and  its  hunting.  Let  me  glance  retrospectively 
and  briefly  at  a  few  of  their  recenter  days.  The  iS-milestone  meet 
was  a  very  large  one,  and  most  fashionably  attended.  Dunstown 
and  Harristown  proving  foxless,  the  third  covert  broke  the  spell — • 
the  Blackthorns — sending  forth  a  fox,  who  was  killed  after  some 
forty-five  minutes'  hunting  of  an  uninteresting  order;  the  brush  was 
presented  to  Lady  Randolph  Churchill.  A  Sallymount  fox  was 
equally  commonplace,  but  escaped,  and  so  did  a  gallant  major 
whose  horse  got  half-drowned  in  a  bog  drain,  from  which  a  rope 
brigade  extracted  him.  Silliott  gave  rather  a  better-class  fox,  who 
got  to  ground,  after  a  fair  chase  by  Two-mile  Chapel,  in  a  burrow 
near  Stonebrook. 

The  Flag-staff  meet,  Curragh  Camp,  began  auspiciously  with  the 
pleasant  hospitalities  of  the  4th  Foot.  The  rest  of  the  day  was 
spent  in  vain  efforts  to  hunt  an  Eagle  Hill  and  a  Martinstown  fox. 

Tinorin  cross-roads  day  began  with  dusting  a  hanging  sort  of 
fox  between  the  Corse  and  Hughestown  Hill,  and  killing  him  at 
last  on  the  Golden  Fort  side  of  Tinorin. 

Whitestown  produced  a  fox  who  got  to  ground  just  as  a  run 
seemed  very  promising.  Copelands  being  blank,  Cryhelp  was 
visited,  with  the  result  of  a  late  run  to  the  Scalp  Mountain,  vtd 
Lemonstown  Bridge  and  Rathallin  House. 

The  Rathcoole  meet  was  a  very  fine  one,  but  the  sport  nil, 
principally  owing  to  hounds  dividing  on  two  foxes  from  Coolmine. 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  381 

The  Monasterevan  meet  on  Monday  afforded  little  or  no 
material  to  chronicle  beyond  the  existence  of  foxes  in  the  right 
places. 

In  Louth,  going  back  to  the  i3th,  the  pack  did  very  little  till 
they  got  to  Bragganstown,  whence  they  had  a  slow  forty-five 
minutes  via  Dromisken,  and  a  better  twenty-two  minutes  later  in 
the  day  from  Lisrenny  to  Ardee  to  ground. 

On  the  1 6th  they  met  at  Duleek,  and  killed  a  fox  from 
Gillanstown.  Finding  a  second  in  Gaulstown,  they  ran  him  over 
a  favourite  Meath  line  by  Ardcarne  nearly  to  Ardcath  Chapel — 
thirty-five  minutes.  In  the  Carnes  there  were  a  brace,  and  the 
pack  divided,  one  division  killing  a  vixen ;  the  other  ran  theirs 
through  Hilltown,  over  the  Bradda  by  Beaumont,  over  the  Nanny 
into  Mount  Hanover,  when  a  snowstorm  came  on  and  spoilt  a 
good  promising  run. 

While  Kildare  was  enjoying  such  exciting  sport  on  Tuesday, 
Meath  was  engaged  at  Geraldstown  in  witnessing  or  taking  part  in 
some  chases,  the  nucleus  to  which  was  a  very  handsome  cup  given 
by  Mr.  Preston,  of  Bellinter,  for  horses  within  a  certain  district 
whose  owners  pursue  with  his  harriers.  I  hear  on  all  sides  that 
the  day's  chasing  was  most  successful,  and  much  enjoyed.  Mr. 
Dunne,  to  whom  I  have  frequently  referred  in  these  letters,  was 
the  chief  winner ;  while  next  to  him  came  Mr.  Dundas,  of  the 
3rd  Dragoons,  whose  name  must  be  familiar  to  all  readers  of  The 
Field ;  while  Mr.  Kelly,  to  whom  fell  the  consolation  plate,  has 
many  friends  among  your  clients.  I  hear  champagne  flowed 
freely,  and  all  went  off  well,  but  for  one  sad  episode — the  sudden 
death,  from  heart  disease,  of  Bill  Ryan,  while  on  his  way  to  the 
course.  A  splendid  fearless  horseman,  who  had  commenced  his 
cross-country  education  in  a  hunting  stable,  turning  hounds  with 
rough  unfinished  horses,  he  was  one  of  the  best  performers  I  ever 
saw  on  a  somewhat  raw,  romping  colt  who  wanted  riding  all  round 
the  race  track,  and  yet  could  not  be  hurried  off  his  staying  powers. 
His  integrity  and  respectful  manner  made  him  extremely  popular 


382  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

in  an  arena  where  the  temptation  to  develop  different  charac- 
teristics is,  to  many,  overpowering.  Fame  should  not  be  silent  on 
the  merits  of  a  rider  who,  with  great  opportunities, 

"  Ingentes  oculo  irretorto 
Spectat  acervos. " 

A  spirited  fox-chase  is  no  bad  precursor  to  a  splendid  ball — for 
splendour  is,  I  think,  the  readiest  and  most  effective  word  for  the 
dancing  pageant  to  which  the  Inniskillings  bade  their  immense 
circle  of  friends  welcome  on  Tuesday  night,  at  the  Exhibition 
Palace  in  Dublin.  If  the  loth  don't,  the  6th  do  dance,  and  are 
the  cause  of  dancing  in  others.  Not  strictly  a  hunt  ball,  its 
components  were  mainly  of  the  hunting  guild,  from  H.R.H.  the 
Duke  of  Connaught  to  Madam  Chose,  to  whom  a  cotillon  or  a 
cramped  country  are  equally  welcome.  Got  up  on  a  scale  of 
colossal  magnificence,  it  was  a  colossal  and  magnificent  success ; 
and  this  I  make  bold  to  state  pace  the  pen-and-ink  Peris  (perhaps 
at  the  gate,  disconsolate)  who  have  recently  been  libelling  our 
society.  The  next  day  the  Ward  Union  hounds  gave  the  dancers 
a  splendid  opportunity  by  their  meet  at  Dunboyne :  time  1.30. 
The  assembly  was  a  representative  one,  spite  of  the  engrossing 
Aintree  on  your  side  the  ditch — Kildare  fox-hunters  appearing  in 
fair  numbers,  among  them  Lord  Cloncurry,  Mr.  D.  Mahoney, 
Mr.  Rose,  and  Captain  Saunders ;  while  Carlow  contributed  Mr. 
Stewart  Duckett.  The  enlargement  took  place  at  Nuttstown, 
with  a  wide  drop  fence  to  commence  with.  This  led  to  some 
baulking,  which  is  infectious  among  horses  on  cold  days,  perhaps 
among  men — the  virus  reached  myself  and  hunter — and  so  fast 
was  the  gallop  for  sixteen  minutes  that  a  check  like  this  put  us 
clean  out  of  court  and  out  of  sight  directly.  The  line  was  by  Mr. 
Urell's  farm,  across  the  Black  Bull  road,  over  the  Rathbeggan 
river — a  "ducking  pond"  to-day  to  not  a  few — to  Batterstown. 
A  check  occurred  here,  and  then  a  view  was  gained;  and  then 
fast  and  furious  the  line  led  on  past  Ballymaglasson,  past  "the 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  383 

Hatchet,"  and  on  towards  Culmullen  Hill,  beyond  which  point  I 
am  unable  to  give  evidence — a  splendid  gallop  by  all  accounts. 

Since  sending  off  my  Hunting  Notes  I  have  neither  seen  nor 
heard  of  anything  very  brilliant  in  Meath,  Kildare,  or  Westmeath. 
In  my  next  letter  I  propose  to  send  you  an  aper$u  of  sport  in 
Wexford,  which  has  been  continuously  good.  Lord  Doneraile's 
hounds  had,  I  hear,  a  very  good  day  on  the  22nd,  when  they  met 
at  Miltown,  and,  after  some  ringing  hunting,  found  a  good  sort  of 
fox  in  Boulard,  whom  they  rattled  through  Shandrum  and  killed 
in  the  open  near  Portlands;  while  on  the  same  day  Mr.  Stackpoole's 
harriers  entered  to  stag  by  the  banks  of  the  Shannon.  Sir  David 
Roche's  resignation  of  the  Limerick  hounds  is  looked  upon  as  so 
calamitous  to  the  hunting  interests  of  that  county,  that  every  effort 
will  be  made  to  induce  him  to  continue  to  hold  the  horn  for  a 
further  term. 

On  Monday  last  Mr.  Filgate  had  one  of  the  best  runs  of  the 
season.  It  began  at  Charleville  with  some  feinting  round  the 
plantations  ;  then  the  fox  broke  away  fairly  for  Castle  Belling- 
ham,  passing  through  Boliss,  Williamstown,  Spencer  Hill,  and 
Kilsaran  on  the  way,  hustled  through  the  park ;  here  he  ran 
through  Millsdown  and  Mayne  to  Greenmount,  probably  intending 
to  find  shelter  at  Drumcar,  but  headed  at  the  river  en  route,  he  ran 
by  Annagasson,  through  Mayne  and  Millsdown,  again  getting  into 
the  garden  at  the  latter  place.  From  this  he  tried  hard  to  retrace 
his  steps  to  Castle  Bellingham,  but  on  the  boundary  fence  he  found 
his  fate  after  one  hour  and  twenty-five  minutes  of  hunting  pace — 
fast  on  the  grass,  moderate  on  the  cold  fallows,  when  the  hounds 
were  brought  to  their  noses. 


384  HIBERNIA   VENATICA. 


XXV. 

;  Should  fox  again  so  stoutly  run, 
May  I  be  there  to  see  the  fun  !  " 


Observation  and  observations — Somerville — Fifteen  mile  stag-hunt ! — Captain 
Candy  and  Culmullen— The  Ladies  Churchill— Wexford— Galway— Kil- 
dare  sport. 

"  POST  Nubila  Phoebus  "  is  a  saw  old  and  hackneyed  as  the  Latin 
grammar,  but  as  true  as  the  sun  himself.  Of  the  rain  that  rained 
every  day,  of  the  floods  that  invaded  valleys  and  cities,  not  even 
respecting  the  home  of  "  the  freeborn  Englishman  "  or  the  home- 
stead of  the  farmer,  we  had  enough  in  the  very  "  open  "  season — 
so  called,  I  presume,  because  the  water  sluices  and  supernal 
shower  baths  were  never  closed.  For  the  last  ten  days  or  so  we 
were  beginning  to  forget  our  drenchings  and  preen  our  feathers  in 
the  glorious  sunshine  and  clear  air  which  each  day  brought 
regularly  in  its  programme  of  cloudless  skies  and  widened  horizons. 
A  new  heaven  and  a  new  earth  seemed  to  have  expanded  to  our 
eager  eyes.  The  dark  cloud  curtains  which  narrowed  everything 
to  an  inky  frame  were  suddenly  rolled  up  or  disappeared,  and,  in 
the  beautiful  words  of  Blanco  White's  sonnet, 

"  Lo,  creation  widened  to  man's  view." 

Light  frosts  every  morning,  hot  sunshine  for  two  or  three  hours 
after  noon,  westerly  winds  prevailing  when  there  was  any  wind 
whatever,  and,  strangely  enough,  occasional  dashes  of  snow  or 


HIBERNIA    VENA  TIC  A.  385 

hail,  succeeded  by  summer-like  weather — these  conditions  of  the 
atmosphere  and  thermometer  have  been  ours  for  far  more  than 
a  whole  week.  All  this  reads  dead  against  hunting ;  and  yet  there 
have  been  some  very  fine  episodes  in  Ireland's  hunting  story 
during  this  period.  Scent  has  been  hot  and  strong  for  brief 
intervals,  and  hounds  have  run  fast,  while  heavy  men  over  fourteen 
stone  have  enjoyed  the  novel  and  unwonted  luxury  of  feeling  their 
horses  galloping  on  top  of  the  ground  instead  of  through  it. 

It  is  a  fortunate  thing  that  all  painful  things  come  to  an  end 
sooner  or  later,  for  things  pleasant  and  enjoyable  seem  to  be  of 
very  brief  duration,  hardly  giving  us  time  to  realize  and  savour 
them.  "  'Twas  bright,  'twas  beautiful,  'tis  past ! "  seems  just  now 
a  fitting  epitaph  for  this  glorious  cycle  thrown  into  one  year.  True, 
though  poetical ! 

Friday  morning,  the  23rd,  was  very  inviting  and  genial  in  its 
earlier  hours,  which  were  not  under  the  spell  of  frost,  as  its 
brethren  have  been  of  late,  and  a  ride  of  fourteen  or  fifteen  miles 
to  the  meeting-place  of  the  Meath  hounds — Somerville,  Lord 
Athlumley's  fine  park — could  hardly  have  been  commenced  under 
pleasanter  weather  auspices.  Soon  a  few  light  monitory  showers 
presaged  the  deluge  that  was  to  overtake  one  in  a  few  hours ;  but 
the  wise  of  weather  signs  and  portents  seemed  to  think  that  the 
rain  would  hold  off,  for  the  day's  hunting  hours  at  any  rate.  Soli- 
tary rides  at  slow  pace  engender  reflection  and  observation,  if  the 
air  be  clear  enough  to  look  about  you,  and  you  are  not  absorbed 
in  the  great  business  of  keeping  yourself  dry  and  warm.  My  first 
observation  was  of  a  field  of  seeds  into  which  I  had  noticed  thirty 
or  forty  horsemen  jumping  off  the  road  some  three  months  ago, 
more  or  less ;  and  there  was  every  hoof  track  clear  cut  as  if  by  an 
engraver's  tool.  I  don't  say  the  damage  done  amounted  to  much, 
but  certainly  some  deterioration  of  the  crop  ensued  from  the 
stampede,  and  I  believe  "  seeds  "  are  nearly  the  only  crop  which 
a  field  must  injure  by  riding  over  in  wet  weather;  others  they  may 
injure,  such  as  wheat,  for  instance,  but  I  know  that  some  men  of 

2  c 


3  86  HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A. 

experience  hold  that  the  injury  is  generally  inappreciable.  With 
regard  to  "seeds,"  I  fancy  few  men  would  voluntarily  ride  over 
them,  except  under  such  constraining  necessity  as  keeping  near 
hounds  when  running  very  fast,  or  the  blockade  of  other  avenues 
to  them.  Landlords,  farmers,  and  all  connected  with  the  soil 
would  surely  avoid  them  if  possible ;  and  it  appears  to  me  that  in 
many  cases  the  mischief  arises  from  a  want  of  perception  of  the 
crop,  which  is  taken  for  common  grass  or  fallow,  and  neglect  of 
education  in  matters  rural ;  and  to  such  men  I  address  this  para- 
graph, feeling  sure  that  all  hunting  men  have  the  interests  of  the 
farmers,  their  best  friends  and  supporters,  thoroughly  at  heart. 
My  second  was  made  in  passing  the  grand  stand  at  the  Fairy 
House,  where  the  sound  of  busy  hammering  was  very  audible  from 
the  road.  How  these  stands  have  multiplied  in  our  island !  A 
hundred  years  ago,  the  gallows  tree  and  its  pendant  ornaments 
were,  we  read,  quite  common  sights  for  travellers  as  they  posted 
along  armed  to  the  teeth  to  resist  the  Dick  Turpins  and  Duvals  of 
the  road.  Surely  their  absence  and  the  substitution  of  these 
platforms  is  some  evidence  of  the  march  of  progress  and  the  reign 
of  common  sense,  though  some  hippophobists,  mistaking  abuse  for 
use,  do  tell  us  occasionally  in  strong  language  that  the  racecourse 
is  a  stage  to  Tyburn  and  other  infcrna.  My  third  was  made  after 
a  survey  of  the  splendid  hunting  panorama  presented  to  the  eye 
from  Kilbrew  Hill.  True,  in  the  foreground  there  was  the  sur- 
viving timber  of  a  nobly  planned  park  (now  nearly  ruinate) ;  but 
the  treeless  aspect  of  the  landscape,  particularly  to  eastward,  was 
the  salient  feature  which  commended  itself  to  the  hunting  eye, 
giving  strong  and  most  direct  contradiction  to  a  standard  and 
well-written  topographical  authority  (Lewis),  which  says  that  "  the 
country  in  general  has  a  very  furnished  appearance,  much  re- 
sembling the  county  of  Worcester  or  Hereford  in  England." 
Methinks  natives  of  those  shires  would  find  it  very  hard  to  trace 
a  resemblance.  We  are  now  at  the  entrance  gates  of  Somerville, 
11.30  a.m.  lien  sonnt,  and  a  glance  reveals  that  the  meet  is  a  very 


HIBERNIA   VENA  TIC  A.  387 

smart  one  indeed  in  all  its  elements.  His  Royal  Highness  the 
Duke  of  Connaught  has  patronized  Somerville  to-day,  with  his 
equerry,  Captain  M.  Fitzgerald.  Lord  Cloncurry  and  one  or  two 
more  Kildare  men  are  to  be  seen  in  the  crowd,  while  Louth  con- 
tributes a  very  large  array  of  pursuers  in  the  Messrs.  Tiernan,  Mr. 
and  the  Misses  Gradwell,  Lady  Macnaughten,  Mr.  De  Gernon, 
Mr.  F.  Osborn,  Mr.  Saurin,  Mr.  Blake,  and  many  more.  Among 
the  onlookers  are  Lady  Athlumley  and  party,  Lady  Fanny 
Lambart  and  the  Misses  Lambart,  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Donaldson,  and 
Miss  Waller ;  while  among  the  ladies  on  horseback  are  the 
Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Miss  Cruise,  Miss  Kearney,  Miss  Smith,  and 
Mrs.  Chadwick. 

A  long  tour  round  the  park  ends  in  nothing  foxlike ;  so  we 
pass  on  to  Walshe's  Gorse,  in  all  certain  hope  and  confidence  of 
finding  its  small  well-known  tenant  at  home,  and  awaiting  us  as 
usual,  with  the  probable  result  of  a  gallop  by  Athcarne  Castle, 
some  water  jumping,  and  the  mysterious  disappearance  of  the  fox, 
who  has  never  been  known,  I  hear,  to  go  to  ground,  and  is  always 
lost  when  found  ("  after  being"  would  be  better  grammar),  leading 
some  men  to  imagine  that  he  climbs  a  tree  after  going  a  certain 
distance,  though  another  theory  may  be  possible — namely,  that 
he  runs  along  one  of  the  many  shallow  brooks,  and  so  kills  all 
scent.  There  was  no  scope  for  conjecture  to-day,  for  within  the 
four  corners  of  Walshe's  Gorse  there  was  no  fox  to  be  found. 
Crossing  a  road,  we  come  to  Ballymacarvey  Plantations,  where 
the  drying  winds  have  not  affected  the  miry  woodland  roads, 
leading  a  noble  lord  out  to-day  to  say,  "  Here's  a  specimen  of 
English  hunting ; "  and  not  without  truth.  It  is  good  for  Meath 
and  Kildare  men  to  meet  these  squelchy  mud-ways  occasionally, 
if  it  were  only  to  make  them  prize  their  general  absence  from 
their  territories  more  highly  than  they  are  inclined  to.  Slater's 
Gorse,  a  few  fields  distant,  is  now  searched,  and  searched  in  vain ; 
the  mid-day  malison  of  the  Laureate  is  on  our  county. 

"  Bad  luck  to  the  country  !  the  clock  had  struck  two  ; 
We  had  found  ne'er  a  fox  in  the  gorses  we  drew." 


3  88  HIBERNIA   V EN  ATI  C A, 

Luncheons,  usually  reserved  till  after  the  first  run,  are  devoured 
now,  for  the  cold,  sleety  rain,  driven  into  us  by  a  cutting  east 
wind, .  provokes  hunger.  It  is,  I  suppose,  about  or  nearly  two 
miles  to  Corballis  Gorse  by  road.  We  fielded  it,  and  found  some 
very  pleasant  flying  fences  en  route  to  keep  our  horses  in  practice. 
One  of  them,  a  river  or  dyke,  was  charged  in  spirited  style  by  a 
hard-going  light-weight,  who  has  won  his  spurs  in  the  hunting  and 
chasing  fields  of  his  country;  but  horse  and  man  did  not 
sympathize — the  latter  full  of  jump,  the  former  full  of  swerve  and 
stop — the  result  was  a  bath,  though  a  few  drops  more  or  less 
to-day  mattered  little.  We  are  now  by  Corballis  Gorse,  a  very 
happy-looking  kennel.  "  There  he  goes  ! "  says  somebody,  as  the 
fox  tries  to  break  towards  Corbalton — a  bad  line  for  the  riding 
division  :  but  he  has  turned  back,  and  made  his  exit  in  a  precisely 
contrary  direction.  We  on  the  western  side  have  to  gallop  fast, 
jump  a  fence  or  two,  and  gain  the  road;  others  ride  a  line  parallel 
to  it.  An  intersecting  road  is  crossed,  and  the  green  large  fields 
of  Macetown  are  all  around.  But  the  fox  seems  to  have  baffled 
the  pack,  and,  though  they  work  on  by  Rathfeigh  in  a  hesitating 
fashion,  it  is  hardly  hunting.  The  sport  of  kings  ceases  to 
exhilarate  under  our  present  conditions — no  scent,  and  a  needle 
bath  of  sleety  rain  making  horse  and  man  most  uncomfortable. 

Courtown  was  the  fixture  for  the  Kildare  hounds  on  Saturday, 
the  24th,  and  the  fame  of  Courtown  and  the  railway  opportunities 
brought  a  very  smart  crowd  together — a  large  part  of  hunting 
Kildare,  some  Meath  men,  some  four  or  five  of  the  Inniskillings, 
some  of  the  yth  Dragoons  and  4th  Foot ;  while  among  the  visitors 
were  Captain  and  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Candy,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Adair. 
The  Ladies  Fitzgerald  and  Lord  Maurice  attended  the  meet, 
which  was  nearly,  though  not  quite,  as  numerous  and  fashionable 
as  the  last  Sallins  gathering.  A  night  of  storm  and  rain  was 
succeeded  by  a  very  lovely  morning,  which  inspired  confidence, 
though  lowering  clouds  in  the  distance  and  a  watery  sun  ought  to 
have  been  warning  sufficient  to  bring  the  usual  supplies  of  water- 


HIBERNIA   YEN  ATI C A.  389 

proofs  and  over-alls.  Few  heeded  the  portents,  however,  and, 
if  they  had  long  distances  to  ride  homewards,  must  have  put  an 
extra  stone  or  so  of  water  on  their  horses,  for  by  noon  the 
rain  began,  and  for  several  hours  Sheridan's  line  was  literally 
true — 

"  Drip  !  drip  !  drip  !    There's  nothing  here  but  dripping !  " 

But  I  anticipate  my  tale  of  negations  !  Courtown  House  stands 
on  a  slight  elevation,  surrounded  by  belts  of  plantations  of  some 
extent.  It  is  very  pretty  to  watch  the  drawing  all  round,  with 
little  interludes  of  sunk  fence  and  other  jumping,  and  much 
galloping  over  the  turf  of  the  park.  We  had  all  these  fair  sights 
to-day,  but  no  fox ;  so  we  jogged  on  further  westwards  to  Bally- 
caghan  Gorse,  nothing  doubting  the  certainty  of  a  find.  We  were 
disappointed  again ;  nor  had  we  the  usual  excitement  of  a  fast 
gallop  over  a  mile  or  two  of  old  turf,  with  an  occasional  fence 
before  us  to  relieve  the  monotony  of  drawing  blanks  in  our  fox 
lottery ;  for  our  master  led  us  some  four  or  five  miles  round  the 
road  to  Cappagh  Gorse,  when  we  learnt  that  the  vixen  had  been 
let  in,  and  her  mate  had  gone  abroad  somewhere.  Another  long 
dreary  jog  takes  us  to  Donadea  Old  Gorse,  which  is  foxless. 
Bellavilla,  drawn  twice  last  Tuesday,  is  now  the  object  of  the 
inquisitors ;  and  here  I  left  them,  thinking  the  game  hardly  worth 
the  candle— the  latter  represented  by  a  ride  homewards  of,  per- 
ha